Curtin alumna Jacqueline Wright’s debut novel Red Dirt Talking has been longlisted for the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Ms Wright, who completed a Doctor of Creative Arts at Curtin and was also Writer-in-Residence for a time, said being longlisted was unbelievable and that the achievement had restored her confidence as a writer.
“Being a writer is a lonely and isolated business, especially when you’re a regional writer,” the Broome-based author said. “When you don’t have access to the writing world and when you can’t regularly attend festivals, it can really affect your confidence.
“When I looked at last year’s longlist there were some really polished, exceptionally talented writers in the mix and to even be considered in the same league as them is a dream come true.”
After working for many years as a teacher and linguist focusing on Indigenous Australian Aboriginal language in the Pilbara and Kimberley, Ms Wright took on a regional literature position promoting and developing literary activities and improving opportunities for writers in the north-west of Western Australia. She now has two part-time jobs working as publishing intern at Magabala Books and a sports producer at ABC radio, Broome.
Ms Wright hoped being longlisted for the Miles Franklin would help WA literature be taken more seriously. “It’s nice for a regional WA writer to be recognised by a competition like this and be given a voice,” she said.
The judges will announce the shortlist on 30 April at the State Library of NSW. If Ms Wright wins the award, she will join Curtin professor Kim Scott, Curtin alumnus Tim Winton and the late Curtin professor Elizabeth Jolley, who have won seven Miles Franklin Literary Awards between them.
Red Dirt Talking by Jacqueline Wright is published by Fremantle Press. It’s available to buy online and from bookstores.