In 2013 the manuscript of this novel was one of five awarded the Varuna Harper Collins Manuscript Development Fellowship.
This was so unexpected that I didn’t know where to start. I knew nothing about Varuna, other than that everyone I told seemed to be enormously impressed.
The plan was for the 5 of us from all around Australia to stay at Varuna for 10 days in May, writing and getting editorial input from one of the three participating editors who would visit each of us. The stay was a wonderful experience and the time spent with the Varuna staff and the other fellowship participants was invaluable. One of those is a great writing buddy still.
Anyone who aspires to be a writer will be able to imagine the luxury of having ‘a room of one’s own’ in which to write, in private, for most of the day and as long into the night as they wish. There was the suggestion that we refrain from knocking on each others’ doors to ensure that no-one’s writing was interrupted.
There are several opportunities to apply for residencies at Varuna during the year. Each participant is required to pay a sum towards their ‘board and lodgings’ and it is well worth paying for.
One of the bonus attractions of staying at Varuna, apart from the writerly companionship, is the gourmet catering, provided by the wonderful, dynamic Sheila, who would even leave us ‘a little something’ on the rare occasions when she couldn’t be there in person.
Having a room of your own to write, uninterrupted, was a luxury yet to be matched.
It also goes down well, being able to cite a Varuna Fellowship on your bio as an aspiring writer.
The manuscript that got me there was The Year of the Lilyweeds.
By a wonderful stroke of serendipity, the manuscript was accepted this year by Cameron Creswell Literary Agents in Sydney where my agent in Jo Butler who was instrumental in selecting this manuscript for the Varuna Fellowship. Jo has given me endless guidance this year and once again the manuscript has moved forward and may soon be ready to face the world!