Literary prize for science writer

Flinders University creative science writer Dr Danielle Clode took out the Max Fatchen Fellowship at this year’s Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature.

She joined the likes of Tim Winton (WA), national Premier’s Award winner Eva Hornung, Emily Steel, Jude Aquilina, Edoardo Crismani and Flinders PhD student Annette Marner (SA) and Wendy Orr, Pam Brown and Justine Larbalestier (NSW) on the winners’ list at the Adelaide Writers’ Week held all week at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens.

The $15,000 Max Fatchen Fellowship was presented to Dr Clode whose latest book,  The Wasp and the Orchid – a biography of naturalist Edith Coleman will be published this month – and her latest children’s book From Dinosaurs to Diprotodons will be released in August.

Dr Clode will use the fellowship to complete the first of a series of young adult science fiction novellas, Tellurian Blue, exploring issues of climate change and colonisation.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Clode is author of several literary non-fiction books, covering a variety of science and humanities disciplines in fields as diverse as history, genetics, portraiture and aged care.

The Wasp and the Orchid, her eighth book, is the result of her 20-year fascination with the life and work of Victorian botanic expert Edith Coleman, the first Australian woman to be awarded the Australian Natural History Medallion in 1949.

Edith Coleman was an amateur naturalist who, in the 1930s, emerged through a male-dominated realm to help uncover the extraordinary secrets of pseudocopulation, a strange phenomenon where orchids reward pollinating male wasps with sex instead of nectar.

“She found that certain orchids have evolved to mimic the smell (mainly but also touch, look, colour) of female wasps,” Dr Clode says. “It’s amazingly specific – down to mimicking single species-specfic molecules in some cases.”

South Australian author and ABC broadcaster Annette Marner was awarded the Arts South Australia Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award for her story A New Name for the Colour Blue, winning $10,000 and publication of her manuscript by Wakefield Press.

The novel was written as part of her creative writing PhD completed at Flinders and supervised by Professor Jeri Kroll and Dr Clode.

Introduced by the State Government in 1986 and managed by Arts South Australia, the biennial Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature celebrate Australia’s writing culture by offering national and state-based literary prizes.

The awards offer a total prize pool of $167,500 across six national and five South Australian categories, including the coveted Premier’s Award, introduced in 1996, worth $25,000 for the overall winner.

“These prestigious biennial awards and fellowships are a chance to recognise and reward those writers who have made us laugh, cry, think, and feel this year,” said Arts SA Executive Director Mr Peter Louca, “and who have enriched Australia’s literary landscape.

“They are also another way in which Arts South Australia supports the career development of writers across all genres, ensuring our rich publishing and literary culture continues to thrive.”

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