South Perth resident Brooke Dunnell won the 2021 Fogarty Literary Award for Western Australian writers aged 18 to 35 at the ECU Spiegeltent on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Dunnell receives a $20,000 cash prize from the Fogarty Foundation and a publishing contract with Fremantle Press for her winning manuscript The Glass House.
Dunnell who turned 35 just one week after entries for the award closed said the Fogarty deadline pushed her to finish her manuscript. Dunnell said, ‘In other circumstances I might have run out of puff and started to second-guess myself before getting it to the level where I was happy to have others read it. Because I began and finished writing the manuscript so close to the deadline, I didn’t have the chance to share it with [my] readers … so I couldn’t be sure whether everything was working the way I intended.’
Dunnell’s winning manuscript, The Glass House, centres on 36-year-old Julia, who takes a break from her faltering marriage in Melbourne to help her ageing father move out of the family home in Perth. While visiting, she bumps into a childhood friend, Davina, who is keen to reignite their friendship and gets overly involved in Julia’s life without being very open about her own. At the same time, Julia starts having dreams about a shadowy male threat against her stepdaughter, Evie.
Dunnell who has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Western Australia said, ‘I had a spark of an idea where one woman offers to be a surrogate for an old friend in a way that seems promising at the start but slowly unfolds to be a kind of power play. The final element that brought the whole thing together came from thinking about inappropriate behaviour between adults and teenage girls, and how the girl can mistakenly believe she has some agency in what’s going on, only to later realise that … she was being manipulated.’
Executive Chairperson of the Fogarty Foundation, Annie Fogarty AM, said, ‘We are absolutely delighted to help another inspiring writer make the leap from manuscript to published book. Brooke’s talent as a short story writer is garnering her national recognition and we believe she has a long writing career ahead. More than this, her experience as a creative writing mentor and workshop facilitator will hold her in good stead when she provides literary leadership to other young Western Australian writers as a Fogarty Foundation ambassador.’
Fremantle Press CEO Jane Fraser said the Fogarty Literary Award had already unearthed a wealth of talent. Fraser said, ‘The winner, shortlisted and longlisted writers for the first Fogarty Literary Award have become an integral part of the Fremantle Press community. We’ve published five books by the Fogarty alumni to date and we’re thrilled by the responses we’ve had from reviewers and the reading public.’
Fraser said The Glass House is scheduled for publication in 2022, while shortlisted writers Patrick Marlborough and Georgia Tree will work with publisher Georgia Richter to further develop their manuscripts A Horse Held at Gun Point and Old Boy.
The official award ceremony, hosted by 2019 winner Rebecca Higgie, featured readings from The Last Bookshop by Emma Young, Where the Line Breaks by Michael Burrows and The Little Boat on Trusting Lane by Mel Hall – all of which were books shortlisted or longlisted for the first Fogarty Literary Award.
The Fogarty Foundation was established by Brett and Annie Fogarty in 2000 to support and provide educational and leadership opportunities for young people across the spectrum of the Western Australian community. The Foundation believes that supporting people who are leading in their studies, profession or the community, will enable positive change for the whole of the society.
About the winner: Brooke Dunnell is the author of the short story collection 'Female(s and) Dogs', which was a finalist for the 2020 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award. Her short stories have been recognised in competitions including the Bridport Short Story Prize 2019 and the Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize 2017, and appeared in Best Australian Stories, New Australian Stories 2, the Big Issue fiction edition and other anthologies. Brooke has worked as a creative writing mentor, workshop facilitator and judge in various creative writing competitions. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Western Australia and lives in Perth.