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Events, book news, and reviews.

My 2020 Cultural Picks

Kill Your Darlings asked for my best-of for 2020.

This year, I read precious few ‘new-release’ books , as I gave in to my desire simply to re-read things I knew I already loved (lockdown does that to a person, in my experience). One that strong-armed its way through was Luke Horton’s The FoggingIt struck a chord with its depictions of precarious work and travel anxiety (remember that?) and its meditation on the thousands of small moments that make up a relationship. I inhaled it.

It may be a bit niche, but if you’re writing your first book, or releasing your seventh, boy-oh-boy is The First Time podcast for you. It’s a warm, frank and fascinating look at putting your writing out into the world. Start at the beginning, or with the Nardi Simpson episode. Which leads me handily to my book of the year: Nardi Simpson’s Song of the CrocodileI got the audiobook first, and promptly bought a paper copy too. I’m not usually one for ‘family sagas’, but this story blew me open with its characters and the way it captured a small town. The line by line often had me in tears (sometimes simply tears of jealousy). The author reads the audiobook and you should get it for the beauty of the Yuwaalaraay language alone.

While it’s definitely not a new release, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), starring Jane Fonda, is the film that will stay with me after this year is over. (I get away with it here because I saw it as part of the Choreomania film series, now showing at NSW Art Gallery—more people should know about these screenings because they’re free and great!). The film is about a 1930s dance marathon (which were apparently real things). What it’s actually about, though, is the way people are left to fend for themselves against forces they can’t hope to control. Ending on a note of things we can fear, but not fend off—no matter how fast we dance or run—feels apt for the year that was, and as we hot-step our way onward into the new normal.

2020 Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award *Winner*

KYD’s Rebecca Starford, 2019 KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award winner Sam van Zweden, and Picador publisher Mathilda Imlah judged this year’s award.

‘Amidst a strong shortlist, Hayley Scrivenor’s novel of a missing child and the old wounds reopened by her absence was really a standout,’ says Imlah. ‘Told from the perspective of the policewoman in charge of her case, her mother, and her two best friends, Scrivenor’s clever structure ratchets up suspense over the course of a few very long days in the lives of a family and a community.’

Signing with Left Bank Literary


In November 2020, I signed with Grace Heifeitz at Left Bank Literary.

Grace now represents my work, and can be contacted at grace[at]leftbankliterary.com

Heroines Festival Online Workshop


*Online classroom*

I’m delighted to be presenting my ‘Write Like Nobody’s Watching’ Workshop on Saturday 17 October, from 2pm to 5pm, as part of the 2020 Heroines Book Month run by Heroines Festival.

See my ‘Upcoming Workshops’ page for more info, or click the link below to book.

River of Arts In-Person Workshop


*In-person classroom*

I’ll be heading to the beautiful Far South Coast with Linda Godfrey at the end of September to run 3-hour writing workshops in Moruya and Narooma as part of the River of Art Festival, in partnership with the South Coast Writers Centre.

Topics covered in the session include: 

• Why voice matters
• Voice as a goal and as part of the writing process
• Character voice – methods for going deeper
• Point of view and focalisation – the options, pros and cons
• Voice and contemporary publishing
(whose stories can we tell? What are agents and publishers looking for?)

The workshop will be based around a number of short readings that will be sent out before the session, as well as facilitated writing exercises and discussion. Examples will be drawn from fiction and non-fiction prose, from a range of contemporary national and international writers, including Margo Lanagan, Max Porter, Ellen van Neerven and Mary Karr.

See my ‘Upcoming Workshops’ page for more info, or click the link below to book.

Shortlist: Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award

*shortlist*

I was chuffed to hear my manuscript, The Push Back, had been shortlisted in the 2020 Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Prize. Supported by the Copyright Agency, all four shortlisted writers receive the KYD/Varuna Copyright Agency Fellowship, which involves a week-long residency in partnership with Varuna, the Writers House in the Blue Mountains. I can’t wait!

The Push Back by Hayley Scrivenor (Fiction)

When twelve-year-old Agnes disappears on the way home from school in a small town in rural Australia, the community is thrown into a maelstrom of suspicion and grief. As the police begin their investigation, Agnes’s tenacious best friend, Ronnie, is determined to find her and bring her home. When schoolfriend Lewis tells Ronnie that he saw Agnes with a strange man at the creek the afternoon she went missing, Ronnie feels she is one step closer to finding her. But why is Lewis refusing to speak to the police? And who else is lying about how much they know about what has happened to Agnes?

The judges for the 2020 KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award are Picador publisher Mathilda Imlah, KYD ​publishing director Rebecca Starford and 2019 Award winner Sam van Zweden.

July Workshop with The Rumpus

*Online classroom*

You know the feeling when you open a book or start a short story and are instantly taken in by the voice? Something about the narration jumps out at you from the page. It’s the elusive ‘know it when you see it’ that’s the hallmark of a story well told. In this 6-part workshop, held online over 6 consecutive Wednesday evenings, you’ll engage with voice, character and point of view, through a series of readings, mini-lectures and interactive workshopping. Bring something you’re already working on, or develop a piece as you go through a series of exercises.

Wherever you are in your writing journey, this workshop – and the ability to bounce around ideas with a friendly crowd – will help you take it to the next level. A cosy and satisfying way to stay creative and connected this winter.
Sessions run online as a live classroom, 7-8:30pm July 22nd through to August 26th.

Review of Julie Janson’s Benevolence for Mascara Literary Review

June Workshops with South Coast Writers Centre


In the lead up to the Olga Masters Short Story Prize, join Hayley Scrivenor – former director of the Wollongong Writers Festival, and founder of its Short Story Prize – for a series on preparing short stories for submission. Through a program of readings, live online presentations and exercises, work on an existing idea or develop a 2000-4000 word story from scratch. Covering topics from formatting to why vivid and compelling short fiction matters, you’ll also learn common pitfalls to avoid, while developing your work and receiving feedback in a supportive environment.
 
This course is aimed at people wanting to take their short fiction to the next level, and there will be required readings which will be provided as a PDF before the course starts. All participants will receive personalised feedback on their story from Hayley in two batches – once after class three, and once after class six. This accelerated six-part series will run over three weeks, and finish in time for participants to submit to the Prize:
 
Tickets: $150 for SCWC Members ($190 full price)

Dates & Times:
1) Getting started – what’s the story? Wednesday 17 June 7-8pm
2) Using scenes – Thinking about plot Saturday 20 June 4-5pm
3) Finding a voice – Thinking about character Wednesday 24 June 7-8pm
4) Establishing place – Thinking about space Saturday 27 June 4-5pm
5) Making it fresh – Language and image Wednesday 1 July 7-8pm
6) Am I done yet? – Questions to ask before submitting Saturday 4 July 4-5pm

May Workshop with The Rumpus

*Online classroom*
 
Do your first drafts simply gush onto the blank page? Is it your greatest delight to put pen to paper? Well, friend, this is not the class for you!  
 
This 3-hour “live-streamed classroom” is for those of us who find it hard to start, struggle to keep going, and don’t seem to be able to finish writing anything we actually care about. You’ll be able to chip in, discuss, ask questions and chat with your teacher and classmates in real time.
By approaching writing as a layered process, with humour and empathy, Hayley will take you through some practical strategies for getting words on the page, as well as tips and tricks for developing and revising work.
 
Learn about ‘Breathing in’ and gain other insights into how established writers keep themselves returning to the work and the joys of the craft. Whatever kind of writing you do (from novels to pointed notes left on car windscreens), you’ll wrap up this session invigorated, with a rock-solid plan of attack.

So grab a cuppa, your notebook and a pen or pencil – let’s write!