Melbourne-based writer, editor and RMIT alumnus Jennifer Down is a success story waiting to be told.
Since graduating from the Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing in 2013, Down has notched up an inspiring list of achievements in the publishing sphere.
Her novel and first manuscript Our Magic Hour was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, and has subsequently been acquired by Text Publishing for release in February 2016.
Down’s short story 'Convalescence' was published in Overland’s 2014 Winter Fiction Edition while her piece 'Aokigahara' – published recently in the Australian Book Review (ABR) – won the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story prize.
Her short story 'Turncoat' was selected to appear in the collection Award Winning Australian Writing 2014, and she has also been a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk fellow, a Glenfern Fellowship recipient, and has seen her work published in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC’s The Drum and Voiceworks.
Down recognises how “ineffably lucky” she is to be experiencing such encouraging outcomes so early in her writing career.
“I feel hyper-aware of how fortunate I am and also how tough it is for debut novelists – so I’m just enjoying things at the moment,” she said.
She commended the culture of the Professional Writing and Editing program for being incredibly generous and motivating.
“Everyone’s always sharing opportunities, jobs and advice,” she said.
“The workshopping process and practical focus on actually getting work done and getting it published was really important, too.”
Penny Johnson, Professional Writing and Editing and Professional Screenwriting program manager, said Down’s success is testament to what specialised training in creative writing and publishing can offer.
“Jennifer is a huge talent and an exquisite writer with powerful things to say,” Ms Johnson said.
“We’re absolutely thrilled by the industry success she has achieved towards the end of her studies and so fresh into her writing career.
“Our current students are always inspired by seeing what recent graduates have gone on to accomplish.”
Down currently has a few projects on the go including proofreading, rewriting her manuscript, submitting a French thesis and working on a collection of short fiction.
“I have very tentative ideas about a new novel, but I write really slowly, so it’s daunting to think about another big project – I’ll play it by ear,” she said.
Down joins the ranks of other successful RMIT writing and editing alumni, including Graeme Simsion, author of international bestseller The Rosie Project, and fellow 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript finalist JM Green.