The introduction of a new writing fellowship to offer a pathway for First Nations writers to publish commercial fiction – the first of its type in this country – will help introduce a different flavour of Indigenous stories to Australian publishing.
Applications are now open for the new fellowship – initiated by Flinders University in partnership with Harlequin Australia at HarperCollins Publishers and Writers SA – and will remain open until May 1.
The commercial fiction fellowship offers a First Nations writer a 12-month mentorship with Jo Mackay, Publisher at Harlequin; associate status at Flinders University; a writing residency at Writers SA; and a stipend of $3500. During their time at Flinders University, the Fellow will enjoy full access to libraries and resources, along with support from Dr Amy Matthews, Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing.
“Australian commercial fiction is thriving, but there are still troves of untold stories and perspectives from people who don’t always have a platform or access to the world of commercial publishing,” says Dr Matthews. “This will give talented writers access to a platform to tell and promote those stories to a far-reaching audience.
“We are so excited to launch this new fellowship with Harlequin, and to build upon Flinders University’s reputation as a leader in the creative arts. It is an opportunity to broaden the diversity of voices we hear and to discover new stories about our past and our present – which can only be good for our future.”
Narungga woman Dr Natalie Harkin, a senior research fellow at Flinders University who has worked in South Australia’s Aboriginal higher education sector since the mid-1990s, is pleased that the new fellowship will help address a need for more Indigenous stories in Australian publishing.
The fellowship judging panel will consist of authors Karen Wyld, Jared Thomas, Jo Mackay and Amy Matthews. Author Jared Thomas says, “Mentorship is important at any stage of a writer’s career but the ability to undertake mentorship at the start of someone’s writing exploration with a quality mainstream publisher such as Harlequin is priceless. It’s also great that Harlequin/HarperCollins wants to further deliver Aboriginal voices to readers.”
“This mentorship program is designed to offer a genuine pathway to publication for a First Nations writer with a complete commercial fiction manuscript that would benefit from further editorial development,” says Jo Mackay. “This is something we are extremely proud to support.”
Writers SA director Jessica Alice is also an enthusiastic supporter. “The fellowship is a timely opportunity for writers of popular fiction to work with some of the best mentors in the industry,” she says. “Writers SA is excited to host a First Nations Fellow as part of this nationally significant moment for commercial writing in Australia.”
The fellowship is open to First Nations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) writers across Australia. Submissions close on 1 May 2019 and the winner will be announced in July 2019. The fellowship will run from August 2019 to August 2020.
Details about the Fellowship and how to apply are on the HarperCollins website.