“UWRF fuelled me creatively in entirely new ways”: AAWP X UWRF Emerging Writers’ Prize winner Sophie Overett

Posted: 11 June 2019

From over 100 submissions for the Australian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP) x UWRF18 Emerging Writers’ Prize, Sophie Overett’s Sea Wife was the winning entry. Sophie won a ticket to UWRF18, accommodation, and $500 towards airfares. She also received a one-year annual AAWP membership and fully subsidized fees to attend its annual conference where she read from her winning work. AAWP and UWRF have teamed up again in 2019 to present the Emerging Writers’ Prize. We spoke to Sophie about her UWRF and AAWP experience. Details about this year’s Prize here.

As part of the AAWP x UWRF18 Emerging Writers’ Prize, your winning entry Sea Wife was published in Meniscus. Was this the first time you’ve had your work published in a literary journal? What has resulted for your career since its publication? 

My story actually hasn’t yet come out in Meniscus! Hopefully that’ll be a little later in the year. I have had lots of short stories published in journals around the world though, including in Griffith Review, Going Down Swinging, Galavant, the Sleepers Almanac and many more! It’s always a thrill to see your work published, and to be able to work with incredible editors and the teams behind literary journals to polish a story and to connect with readers.

Has anything surprised you about the publication process?   

I’m not sure if anything has surprised me necessarily, but I’ve definitely learnt a lot about writing through the editing and publication process. We tend to think about writing as a solitary process, but the road to publication really makes you realise how much of it is collaborative. Being able to have open discussions about writing, about story, character, setting and theme with an editor is such an exciting and enriching process, and I know that I learn something new about craft and about my own creative practice every time I go through that process.

Tell us about your experience at UWRF18. As an emerging writer, what did you find most valuable at the Festival, and what did you discover about the Indonesian literary landscape?  

I had the most amazing experience at UWRF18! The festival was so, so vibrant in almost every possible way – from the events to the artists to the locations to the works and the topics that were being talked about. It really helped me to discover so many incredible new writers, poets, filmmakers and activists from around the world, and fuelled me creatively in entirely new ways!

“The festival was so, so vibrant in almost every possible way”

I discovered just how rich the Indonesian literary landscape is, and in particular loved the discussions about imagery, metaphor and scope with graphic novelist, Mohammad Taufiq (emte).

What did you gain from your participation at the AAWP Conference?  

I gained an incredible insight into diverse perspectives and voices, a greater understanding of different genres and mediums of writing, and a brief submersion into the incredible writing community and literary scene across Indonesia.

What kind of other opportunities from UWRF and AAWP would you like to see for emerging writers? 

Being able to attend the festival was an incredible experience, and my only wish is that I got to spend more time in Ubud! It’d be amazing to perhaps have a longer writing residency there.

What words of advice do you have for fellow emerging writers? 

Never stop learning! There’s no ‘final level’ to writing – it’s not a game you can finish. When it comes to your craft, your creative practice and your voice, it can always be developed, it can always be honed, it can always grow, so seek out opportunities and experiences that can help you to do that.

What are you working on now? Where to next for your writing? 

I am currently working on a short story collection and a novel manuscript! The short story collection is a range of stories that play with the surreal and have a big focus on women and female relationships, as that’s my favourite thing to write! While the current novel manuscript that I’m working on is an historical fiction novel set loosely around Houdini’s tour of Australia in 1910. It features a murder, a sweeping romance, a rich exploration of Australia’s travelling entertainment scene in the era, and a whole lot of magic.

For all the details on the AAWP X UWRF Emerging Writers’ Prize, click here. Submissions close 31 July.