Australian Women Writers Challenge

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series AWW challenge

Australian Women Writers Challenge

Australian Women Writers Challenge was formally introduced in this article in Dark Matter issue 8.  A number of the people below who said they’d contribute to the discussion on the AWW didn’t get around to it, but I’ve included the article here as it was originally published.

As in the UK and US, the lack of coverage for quality works by women writers is an issue in Australia, including failure to review works, overlooking quality works by women for major literary prizes and male reviewers being preferred by ‘reputable’ media to review ‘important’ works and, indeed, men being preferred to write reviews with cash remuneration. The response in Australia has included establishing the Australian Women Writers Challenge, a challenge open to all and sundry to read and review works in any genre by Australian women, publishing these reviews in the public arena. The Stella Prize has also been established: a literary award open only to works by Australian women.

As the editor of Dark Matter fanzine, I’ve been pondering the AWW challenge for some time now, wondering what Dark Matter can do to participate more actively. Dark Matter welcomes and reviews books written by women of all nationalities as long as the books are in English. I don’t receive many books written by Australian women for review and DMF cannot afford to purchase books for review. Occasionally I will purchase a book for my own interest and then review it, but my personal rule, rarely broken, is that if I pay for a book I reward myself by not reviewing that book. It takes time and effort to review a book and the reading experience is different if you’re constantly analysing the book with the review in mind. However, for the purpose of the AWW challenge, I have purchased a few books with the intention of reviewing them.

In the early hours of a morning last week I had a brainstorm. Dark Matter fanzine would invite authors and associated interesting people with talent in writing to contribute to a series about the Australian Women Writers challenge and Stella Prize. DMF has sent out a basic list of questions for their consideration while giving them freedom to explore tangents and personal experience; to go where inspiration takes them in talking about this subject. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of those who have agreed to participate are award-winning authors and runners up for awards. I’m not including the list of awards for fear of missing some.

To date the following thirteen people have agreed to participate (in alphabetical order):

Ben McKenzie
Chris Hayes-Kossmann
Foz Meadows
Jack Dann
Kim Falconer
Marianne de Pierres
Meg Mundell
Rowena Cory Daniells
Sean Williams
Sonja Hammer – works at Joy94.9 radio
Steve Cameron
Tansy Rayner Roberts 
Trent Jamieson

These articles will be published as a series over the next few issues, hopefully running for the remainder of the year, beginning in issue 9 in May. I am hoping representatives from other minority groups will also contribute; to that end I have a list of people to contact after this issue of DMF is published. I anticipate an interesting, intelligent discussion focusing on gender based issues in the writing and publishing industry. It is my hope that these articles will elicit respectful letters in response to be published in subsequent issues, enriching this debate.

Submissions included:

Michael Pryor
Sean Williams
Sean McMullen
Meg Mundell
Nicole Murphy
Jen Mills
Alexandra Pierce

Jack Dann contributed a different article, ‘What, me compulsive?’

Rowena Cory Daniells found initially that time got away from her, but she later followed through with this GenreCon Report.

Note: all articles submitted by these and other authors are included in the guest blog page. 

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