Budding writer Erin Middleton does not have a publishing deal and her first book won’t be finished for another couple of years. But what she has already written has helped her win a scholarship that may set the 22 year old from Campbelltown on a literary career.
Ms Middleton was recently named the winner of the 2019 Faber Writing Academy scholarship at publisher Allen & Unwin.
She submitted an excerpt of her incomplete novel as part of her application for the scholarship, and the judges were obviously impressed.
Kathryn Heyman said Erin’s work stood out for its immediately compelling voice and the elegance of her prose.
“She’s created an engaging and intriguing world and characters whose problems seem real, whose fears seem believable, whose voices seem true,’’ Ms Heyman said.
Ms Middleton said the idea for the book came to her when she was 18.
“It’s fiction, a novel, possibly a series of novels,’’ she tells the South West Voice in Macarthur.
“I aim to finish the first one in two years and while I don’t have a publishing contract, the scholarship course may help as samples of your work will get sent around to several publishers.’’
Ms Middleton grew up in Picton, attended Picton Primary – even when her parents moved to Campbelltown – then Elderslie High School, which was “really good; it offered a drama program.
After doing the HSC in 2014, Ms Middleton went to UNSW for a year, doing an arts degree, which included theatre as one of her subjects.
The following year she transferred across to the Sydney Theatre School where she successfully completed a three year diploma of arts in acting.
“I went overseas for seven months, came back and started on the writing when I saw the ad for the scholarship,’’ she says.
“Thought, might as well give it a go.’’
And she did, and won the scholarship that may set her up as a writer, something she’s been seriously thinking about doing since the age of “between 12 and 14 I think’’.
“The love for writing started really early, when I was in Year 4 or 5 in primary school – one of our teachers was dedicated to making us do writing exercises and writing short stories, and that’s when I got into it,’’ she says.
But obviously an acting career is also on the cards for Erin Middleton, so which is higher up on the list?
“Oh, it’s very even, and it’s been like that for quite a while,’’ she says.
“I liked writing first, that’s what I did, wrote for the university magazine, and story and script writing, but acting’s definitely up there as something I want to pursue.’’
This year she has been accepted into the Powerhouse Museum Theatre Ensemble out at Fairfield, which is a year long scholarship commitment.
Last year Ms Middleton was a cast member in a Campbelltown Theatre Group’s production, Of Mice and Men.
From March though, her attention will turn to the writing scholarship at the Faber Writing Academy at Allen & Unwin in Sydney – the only Australian creative writing school inside a publishing house.
Ms Middleton is hoping that among other things the course will help her learn structure.
“When you have all these bits and pieces floating around and knowing how to pull them together, I think the course will really help with that,’’ she says.
“I think it will be really interesting, and it will be great to make all those connections.’’