Di Jenkins

Varuna Alumni Monthly Features 2018

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..

View Alumni Features from:    2018    2017    2016    2015    2014    2013    2012    2011    2010    INDEX

Alumni Feature November 2018


The Struggles of Women Writers

by Vanessa Kirkpatrick

Vanessa Kirkpatrick This week as I was preparing to host the Poetry Masterclass week at Varuna, I found myself reflecting on a few things specific to the struggles of women writers. In Virginia Woolf’s 1931 essay, ‘Professions for Women’, she spoke about the need to kill the angel in the house. Woolf describes the angel as follows:

She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught, she sat in it—in short, she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others.

Virginia Woolf’s essay, ‘Professions for Women’, in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays, Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1942.

Alumni Feature September 2018


Member Interview with Eleanor Limprecht

Introduction and interview by Diana Jenkins

Eleanor Limprecht There are always authors I feel I know from the moment we first make contact. Sometimes it’s because their reputation precedes them; other times it’s their work I already know. And for all the stiff competition and entirely fraught difficulty of navigating the publishing marketplace, Australia’s community of writers is surprisingly compact, so the degrees of separation are pleasingly few. Author Eleanor Limprecht ticks several of these boxes and our email exchanges in preparation for this interview confirmed my suspicion that she’s one of those authors – one with whom I have an easy affinity. The engaging accessibility of her writing in her latest novel The Passengers is a brilliant demonstration of what can happen when ability meets discipline; only the best of our writers pull off this act of magic, but it’s what we’re all chasing like hounds at the hunt, and it’s my great pleasure to share our conversation with you now.

Alumni Feature August 2018


Elysian Kingdoms: The Lure of the Writers' Colony

Varuna Guest Post by Alice Nelson

NELSON AliceIn Rachel Cusk's latest novel Kudos, one of the characters is ensconced at a writers' residence in an Italian castle owned by a lascivious countess when she comes across a young male writer who drifts from one writers' colony to the next in a kind of privileged literary retreat-hopping lifestyle. His future seems to unfurl before him as a long series of well-funded creative sojourns in exotic locales. Cusk's character wonders if such a lifestyle is sustainable: 'Still, after two weeks she could see it was possible to have too much of a good thing. There was a man there, a novelist, who was going straight on to another residency in France, and then another one in Sweden after that: his whole life, as far as she could see, consisted of writerly sinecures and engagements, like a whole life of eating only dessert. She wasn't sure it was healthy.'

Alumni Feature June 2018


The Long Goodbye

By Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Di Jenkins I can’t remember the last time I did a first-person Monthly Feature like this – one of my ‘true confessions’ – but it was a while ago. (Okay, it was February – I checked – and before that, November 2017). And boy, I’d really have to go back through the archives to recall anything about the very first one I wrote, but I can tell you this is the last for a while. I’m going on sabbatical. I have to, which means there’s a wonderful, real and present opportunity for all of you while I’m gone.

Alumni Feature May 2018


Insights into the barriers and opportunities for Australian writers

by Executive Director Veechi Stuart

Veechi Stuart Amy and I spent a fascinating morning recently at an industry forum as part of the Australia Council Visiting International Publishers program. Publishers, literary scouts and agents from around the world shared their thoughts about the barriers and opportunities for Australian writers, the future of alternative formats such as audiobooks, the rise of crime writing as a genre and the future of literary fiction.

The US editors and agents talked about current trends in US fiction. Psychological suspense continues to be very popular, with legal thrillers, mysteries and missing girls, missing children, missing women . . . A sense in the room, met with the laughter of recognition, that missing people and psychological suspense on public transport may finally have reached saturation point.

Alumni Feature April 2018


Kim Scott, 2018 Guest Author at the Varuna Sydney Writers' Festival

Introduction and interview by Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Kim Scott As job perks go, some people love nothing more than a free lunch, tickets to see a boy band, or a boxful of Botox, but for this little duck, being asked to interview two-time (and counting…) Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott is right up there. Top of the heap, no question.

A guest of the 2018 Varuna Sydney Writers’ Festival, Scott will be interviewed by poet Caitlin Maling, on Monday 30 April. As most of you will already know, Scott hails from the South Coast of Western Australia. A proud descendent and member of the Noongar, he is at once storyteller and -keeper, academic and author, cultural excavator and activist.

Alumni Feature March 2018


Eddie Ayres, 2018 Guest Author at the Varuna Sydney Writers' Festival

Introduction and interview by Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Eddie Ayres credit Russell Shakespeare







Eddie Ayres          credit Russell Shakespeare

Alumni Feature February 2018


Poor Old Michael Finnegan Begin Again

By Features Editor Diana Jenkins

I don't usually go in for making New Year's resolutions. I don't like setting myself up for failure, especially since it's already such a central feature of my vocation. I really feel like I've got failure covered. We're good. But perhaps a list of resolutions will be a revealing exercise, so what the hell: let's give it a burl.

Alumni Feature January 2018


Alumni Interview with Taryn Bashford

Introduction and interview by Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Taryn Bashford Welcome to the first Varuna Feature for 2018. It’s great to be back, and I’m delighted to be here talking this month with debut YA novelist Taryn Bashford. After winning a Varuna PIP Fellowship in 2016, The Harper Effect is out now, taking teenage readers into the cutthroat world of the international tennis circuit, a truly Darwinian environment where only the fittest survive.