Romance meets reality

Flinders student Sarah Gates has just won a $12,500 Colin Thiele Creative Writing Scholarship to help write her romance novel.
Flinders student Sarah Gates has just won a $12,500 Colin Thiele Creative Writing Scholarship to help her write her first romance novel.

“Obsessed” with romance novels and reality TV, Flinders University student Sarah Gates is playing the part of matchmaker by fusing the two genres to write her own love story.

Ms Gates, who is studying a double degree in law and arts with a major in creative writing, has just won the $12,500 Colin Thiele Creative Writing Scholarship to help her finish her first romance novel, based on two characters who fall in love on a reality TV show.

“I’ve always loved reading romance novels – I love the happy endings and knowing the characters will always be together, it’s a bit of escapism I guess,” Ms Gates, 21, says.

“I’m also obsessed with reality TV and I really wanted to explore the impact of fame, gossip and the media in my own romance novel,” she says.

Funded by Carclew and Arts SA, the scholarship will help cover Ms Gates’ living expenses while she completes the novel, and will include weekly meetings with mentor and romance novelist Victoria Purman.

The funds will also enable Ms Gates to attend the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne in August, where she will pitch her manuscript to potential publishers and agents.

As with all good love stories, she says the most important part of her romance novel is the characters.

“You need to have strong relationships between the characters, and personalities that readers can love getting to know,” Ms Gates, who works at the SA Writers Centre and as a media assistant at the Flinders University Student Association, says.

“I want people to fall in love with the characters and fall in love with the book.”

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