Di Jenkins

Varuna Alumni Monthly Features 2012

Varuna Alumni Association: the craft, the writing life


The Varuna Alumni Monthly Feature is prepared each month by Varuna's Alumni News Editor Diana Jenkins.

There are interviews and articles and we encourage you to express your views using the Comments form at the end of each Feature.
Please drop the News Desk a line if you’re so inclined – your feedback is ALWAYS welcome and very much appreciated.

An Invitation to Alumni: Contribute to the Alumni News & Monthly Features

If you have some news you wish to share with other alumni, or if you have a hankering to interview other writers, or have a great feature bubbling away in the back of your mind, the Varuna Alumni News welcomes member contributions. Please send no more than 1,000 words to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for consideration. Contributions should be attached as a Word document, and include any JPG images relevant to the piece.

Update your Alumni Profile

If you’d like to update your profile in the Varuna Alumni Directory, please email 100 words or less, plus a JPG (150px wide) photo of yourself, to Vera at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
For details on what format to send download this pdf.

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Alumni Feature December 2012

Varuna’s Strategy Day: Lingering Thoughts in a Muddled Mind

The alarm went off at 5:30 am, but I only fell out of bed and into the shower a full 15 minutes later. I’ve never been a morning person, and since my son (who’s two on Sunday – two!) has taken to hallway sprints anytime between 3 and 5am daily, I’m even more resistant. When my alarm sounded, my first thought was, ‘What fresh hell is this?’ – but then I remembered: I needed to be in the Blue Mountains in precisely 4 hours for Varuna’s Strategy Day.

Alumni Feature October 2012

Member Interview: Heather Taylor Johnson

Varuna poets and their poetry have long been neglected here at the Alumni News Desk and your editor only has herself to blame. Sorry, chaps. Happily, Heather Taylor Johnson agreed to be the subject of this month’s Member Interview to help me redress this gross imbalance.

Alumni Feature August 2012

5x15 Stories: taking London by storm

An excited hum spread through the upstairs theatre at the Tabernacle, a mixed-use venue at the more bohemian end of London’s Notting Hill, just a picked pocket away from Portobello Road. Gathering in the hundreds was a wine drinking, literature loving crowd, politely vying for seats while pausing to exchange greetings and snippets of trade gossip. For such a large crowd, it felt unmistakably close-knit.

Alumni Feature July 2012

Shelley’s Ghost: Wandering the Halls

Writing for a living has always been a pretty perilous business for all but a lucky few; it's notorious for its inability to earn most of us a living wage, and it's a situation that seems only to get worse with each passing day. Sorry to strike such a bum note as the opening contention, but it's true. Teaching, a long-time refuge of the struggling scribe, becomes a far trickier proposition when humanities departments are shrinking and even closing the world over, and freelance journalism is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as panicked media outlets flail in the face of free online content. Part of the media's response to the new world order has been to tighten the belt, stop commissioning and begin laying off in-house staff. Publishers and bookstores, both traditional safe houses for aspiring novelists needing to earn a quid, are also feeling unprecedented heat on the fast-burning bottom line.

Alumni Feature June 2012

Lost in Translation

In search of lost time.cover Varuna Alumna and author of the YA hit Six Impossible Things, Fiona Wood blogged recently about reading two versions of the first volume of Proust’s classic In Search of Lost Time, concluding that subtle differences of meaning ultimately deliver distinct reading experiences. Fiona’s experience suggests that the field of literary translation is anything but straightforward, which, being the curious cats we are, seems a damn fine reason to linger by its hallowed gates awhile.

Alumni Feature April 2012

Member Interview: Kate Wyvill, Northern Territory-based playwright

[Also in this feature: Helen Barnes-Bulley reviews Emma Cameron's Cinnamon Rain.]

Playwright, director and founder of Sanity Productions, Kate Wyvill takes time out from polishing her forthcoming play ‘Marbles’ to chat to Alumni News Editor Diana Jenkins.

Alumni Feature March 2012

You’ve Got Mail

by Diana Jenkins

When your News Editor finally snaffled enough toddler-free time to sit down and read last December’s Australian Author, the ASA’s member publication, the effort was well rewarded, eventually leading to this month’s feature on authors’ letters. I was reading Caroline Baum’s Burnt Offerings, a fascinating article ostensibly about attempting to sell what she describes as years ‘of erratic correspondence with some of Australia’s best writers,’ when I came across a line that stopped me in my tracks:

It is worth remembering here that once you receive a letter, no matter in what form, you own it in every sense, including copyright.

Alumni Feature February 2012

Member Interview: Jennifer Scoullar,
author of "Wasp Season" and the forthcoming "Brumby's Run"

Australian rural and environmental author – not to mention passionate Varuna Alumna – Jennifer Scoullar takes time out from editing her forthcoming novel Brumby’s Run to chat to Alumni News Editor Diana Jenkins.