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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Four stories spanning the globe

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Writing mentor Marele Day (seated, rear) with (l–r) Sharon Dean, Russell Eldridge, Mirandi Riwoe and Bronwyn Birdsall. Photo supplied
Writing mentor Marele Day (seated, rear) with (l–r) Sharon Dean, Russell Eldridge, Mirandi Riwoe and Bronwyn Birdsall. Photo supplied

Four manuscripts set on four different continents were selected this year for the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre’s prestigious residential mentorship program.

Mirandi Riwoe, Sharon Dean, Bronwyn Birdsall and Russell Eldridge spent last week at Byron Bay Farmstay, working with award-winning author Marele Day.

‘My thrill in doing this is to see the progress, and these writers have really run with it,’ Marele said. ‘Maybe the most distinguishing thing about this group is the diversity. Each manuscript creates such a vivid sense of place.’

Mirandi Riwoe, of Pottsville, who workshopped Fragrance of Night, a murder mystery set in Java, said, ‘what a wonderful opportunity to spend a week with Marele and three emerging writers, who helped me to improve my manuscript’.

Bronwyn Birdsall has distilled her five years in Bosnia into Sweet Trouble, a non-fiction book covering a day in the life of an Australian in Sarajevo.

‘The mentorship has enabled me to see my highly personal project through the reader’s eyes. It has been a wonderful week in the company of exceptional writers,’ Bronwyn said.

North Ocean Shores resident and former longtime editor of the Northern Star, Russell Eldridge, said his book, Shame, is the novel he has ‘been burning to write for years and Marele’s insights and instincts were just what I needed to move it along’.

The story is set in the dark days of apartheid and told through the eyes of a child carrying a deadly secret.

Alstonville’s Sharon Dean is writing the story of Janice Bostok, the Murwillumbah banana farmer who became one of the world’s leading haiku poets.

‘Taking part in the mentorship has been an enormous privilege and I’m grateful to the NRWC,’ Sharon said.

‘I came to the mentorship with a PhD dissertation and thanks to Marele and the other writers, I feel like I’ve found the heart of the story.’

After the mentorship, the four writers will submit their manuscripts to Allen & Unwin for consultation during the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival in August.


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