Application fees will be halved and a travel bursary provided for successful entrants with health care cards to make the Affirm Press Mentorship Award more accessible for low-income writers.

In this year, the fourth of the Mentorship, the award will be solely focused on attracting literary fiction. As in previous years there will be three to four winners who will receive a week’s residency and manuscript development at Varuna in the Blue Mountains. Two members of the Affirm Press editorial team, senior editor Ruby Ashby-Orr and editor Cosima McGrath, will provide in-depth manuscript development and feedback as part of the award.

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.

Ruby Ashby-Orr said she was excited to see the manuscripts that would be entered this year, especially with introduction of the bursary.

‘Affirm Press Varuna Mentorship Award has an established track record of nurturing local talent, and I’m delighted that through the bursary we have come up with a way to open this opportunity to a wider range of voices. We have worked with many talented writers through the program; it’s always an enjoyable week of collaboration and creativity for the writers, and also for us as editors. We so rarely have a chance to get to know and work with authors before signing them, and developing manuscripts with Paula and Sonia in such an intimate setting was a great way to start our publishing relationship. This is a wonderful opportunity that I’d encourage any literary fiction writer to apply for.’

Veechi Stuart, Executive Director of Varuna said she was proud to partner with Affirm Press for the award.

‘As Australia’s only national residency devoted to literature, we know how important it is to provide writers with a space dedicated to writing and the creative process. Varuna is proud to partner with Affirm Press to discover the best of Australia’s new and emerging writers.’

Applicants should visit the Varuna website for more details on the award and how to apply.