Three manuscripts have been chosen for the Affirm Press Mentorship Award in partnership with Varuna, The National Writers House.
The Things She Owned by Katherine Arguile – A grief narrative about a Japanese mother and her mixed-race daughter set in Second World War Tokyo, contemporary London and Okinawa.
Flume by Amanda Robinson – The lives of a young sculptor, a teenage dancer, an emergency worker and an accused arsonist intertwine after a devastating bushfire tears their worlds apart.
I Shot the Devil by Ruth McIver – Part literary noir, part postmodern Gothic novel set in the fictionalised town of Newport, Long Island (New York) in 1994 and 2010 respectively that weaves elements of memoir and true crime with fiction.
In the program’s fourth year Varuna received 115 manuscripts from writers across Australia, 12 of which were entered through the newly introduced application fee support and travel bursary for low income earners.
The manuscripts were each double-read in the first selection process, and a shortlisted selection as well as the complete set of applications with manuscripts were sent to Affirm Press for their final selection. The Affirm Press editorial team made their decision partly based on the strength of the writing, and the potential of each book to connect with an audience.
The Varuna assessors, Alex Craig and Mark Tredinnick, said they were impressed with the quality of submissions to the award.
‘There is no lack of ambition here, and the overall strength of this year’s submissions and dedication evident in the development of these novels is a wonderful indication of the health of Australian writing. Affirm Press will end up with a shortlist of new manuscripts any publisher would kill for.’
Affirm Press senior editor Ruby Ashby-Orr said she is looking forward to working with the three selected writers later in the year.
‘After reading the quality of writing here I’m truly impressed by the Varuna assessors’ ability to narrow a selection of 115 manuscripts to 15. It was a tough enough job for us to whittle the shortlist down to our final three but we’re delighted with our chosen winners. Cosima and I are very excited to meet and work with Katherine, Amanda and Ruth at Varuna in October.
This Affirm Press Mentorship Program includes a one-week residency at Varuna including the opportunity to work with Affirm Press editors Ruby Ashby-Orr and Cosima McGrath while in residence.
Two previous winners of the award have gone on to sign publishing deals with Affirm Press. Paula Keogh, a winner of the 2015 award went on to publish the acclaimed memoir about living with schizophrenia and her relationship with the late beat poet Michael Dransfield. The Green Bell was longlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize and shortlisted for the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Award. 2016 mentorship award winner Sonia Orchard’s novel, about troubled female friendship, is scheduled for publication in 2019.