A Woodend author who’s won Australia’s premier literary prize for young writers says she’s had a dream run, having only recently started writing fiction.
Katherine Brabon spent many days surrounded by the gentle hum of activity at The Village Larder in Woodend and Mount Macedon’s Trading Post, working away at her debut novel, The Memory Artist.
The fictional memoir, which looks back at the upbringing of the son of Russian dissidents, led to Brabon winning this year’s Vogel literary award, including $20,000 and a publishing deal with Allen and Unwin.
Brabon, who is completing a PhD in creative writing at Monash University, says she’s always been an avid reader.
But it wasn’t until she decided to turn a love for Russian history into a short story and then a manuscript that she launched herself into the world of fiction.
‘‘My parents read to me a lot and I loved to read as a kid, but I only really started writing fiction the past three years,’’ Brabon says.
‘‘I just started writing and the award came up. I thought it would be great to be long-listed and get some exposure, but to win … it’s all happened far quicker than I thought it would.’’
Brabon, who was educated at Woodend Primary School, Sacred Heart and Sunbury College, recently moved to Melbourne but returns home at least every weekend.
She says she was studying for her masters in history at Oxford when she decided to start writing.
‘‘I was studying a lot of Russian history. I was fascinated by it and felt a desire to do something more. I started writing a short story first and it was published over there, so I thought, I’m going to have a go at this.’’
Returning to Australia, Brabon began her PhD, which allowed her the time to hone her story.
She says the cafes were the perfect setting to allow her creativity to flow.
‘‘They’re never too busy on a weekday morning and I like to have a bit of noise around me when I write.’’