RMIT writing graduate Melissa Manning has won the inaugural Overland Story Wine prize with her short story, Woodsmoke.
Selected from more than 500 entries, the 485-word story won Manning $4000 and will be published in Overland, as well as on the label of an upcoming Story Wines Shiraz.
The Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing graduate was surprised and honoured to discover the news.
“There are so many talented writers in Australia with the ability to touch, surprise, and challenge,” she said.
“To have Woodsmoke selected as the winning story in what I understand is an accomplished field is incredibly heartening.”
Drawn from Manning’s current work-in-progress, South West, the winning entrywas inspired by the smokehouse on the country property where she grew up.
“I’m somewhat obsessed with the imprint of the ‘lesser’ senses on memory and the way this affects the lives that follow,” she said.
“Although I never went to the smokehouse I was always intrigued by it.”
Woodsmoke clearly impressed the judges, with novelist and Overland contributing editor Clare Strahan, writer and winner of the inaugural Story Wine Prize Leah Swann, and poet, writer and broadcaster Alicia Sometimes, describing the story as “stunning … intriguing and quietly transgressive”.
Since graduating from RMIT, Manning has taken up a Varuna Writers Residency Fellowship, completed her first novel manuscript, Written on Bark, and is working on the first draft of her new novel, South West.
She has used her prize money to sign up to the Indigenous Places intensive course offered through Writers Victoria and delivered by the Koori Heritage Trust and Tony Birch.
“I left RMIT with a solid understanding of the many facets of writing, editing, the publishing industry, and desktop publishing,” she said.
“The course gave me the confidence to apply what I’d learned and to trust my instincts.”
Be true to you: Study communication and writing at RMIT in 2016.
Stephanie Holt, Professional Writing and Editing Program Coordinator, was thrilled to hear of Manning’s achievement.
“It's great to see a recent graduate take out this prize, especially when the prize itself is an innovative one; publishing Melissa's skilful micro fiction on a wine bottle label to reach a wider audience in a novel way,” she said.
“This is a genre that is as challenging for writers as it is engaging for readers.”
From 2016 RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing programs will include a dedicated elective for short fiction, including micro fiction.
“Our program prepares students to write to a high standard across a wide range of genres, and to be confident to explore diverse publishing opportunities,” Holt said.
“In fact, Overland magazine, which offered the prize, is now edited by another Professional Writing and Editing Graduate, Jacinda Woodhead, who also serves on our Program Advisory Committee.”
Story: Emma Morgan