South Australian Hachette Mentorship Winners Announced

In conjunction with Hachette Australia, we are pleased to announce Jessie Byrne and Dee Ayer as joint winners of the second South Australian Hachette Mentoring Program.

Byrne and Ayer will work with Sophie Hamley, Publisher at Hachette Australia and former literary agent, to develop their manuscripts to publication standard. Sarah Tooth, Director of the SA Writers Centre called the award a unique mentoring opportunity for South Australian writers.

‘Submissions were sought from writers across the state late last year. The selection process was a difficult one due to the extremely high quality of entries, again underlining the deep pool of talent in South Australia,’ she said.

‘The Hachette Mentoring Program exists so that writers who aren’t in Sydney or Melbourne can have a channel into the Australian publishing industry, and also so that we are able to discover great new Australian writing, as has been the case two years in a row now with the entries from the SA Writers Centre,’ said Sophie Hamley from Hachette Australia.

The mentorship provides an opportunity for emerging writers to work closely with a leading industry expert and major publishing house. The winners will receive professional feedback on their manuscripts, and will have the chance to learn about the industry and getting published. The mentorship will continue until the writers feel that they do not need further assistance, or the Publisher feels that they are unable to be of further assistance to the writers.

For both writers, the South Australian Hachette Mentoring Program win has offered a unique opportunity. ‘The book is flawed and needs lots of work. To have the attention and guidance of a senior editor from a leading publisher is an enormous privilege. I intend to make the most of the opportunity,’ said Jessie Byrne.

‘I’ve been writing for decades and squeezing it in between jobs, earning a living and having five children. Last year for the first time I had the chance to write pretty much full time and finished the first draft of Angel Port. It was a long shot applying for the Hachette mentorship. When I heard I was a co-winner I was, frankly, overwhelmed,’ said Jessie Byrne.

‘I’ve been working on my manuscript for a while but was really stuck with getting it to that level where it was good enough to be sent to a publisher. I entered the Hachette mentorship because I really need feedback from an experienced eye to help me take my writing to that next level,’ said Dee Ayer.

The 2016 winners, Rose Hartly and Liana Skrzypczak both got a lot out of their mentorships with Hamley.

‘Sophie has been a wonderful mentor and the Hachette Mentoring Program an invaluable opportunity to have an expert set of eyes on my work. With Sophie’s advice on how to emphasise Declan’s hero’s journey, my novel, ‘Shadow Walkers’, now has more tension,  emotion, ‘light and shade’ than I was able to conceive on my own,’ said Liana. ‘As an ex-agent, Sophie is also a wealth of knowledge on the Australian and international book industry as a whole and has always been eager to answer any questions about the market along the way.’

‘The Hachette Mentoring Program has been a unique opportunity to work with an editor with years of experience, without the pressure of a deadline or publishing contract. Sophie gives me feedback on plot, structure and character, but more than that, she is an encouraging voice when I need one. To new and emerging writers in South Australia with an unpublished manuscript: if you want to take a leap forward in your craft, push yourself through the difficult task of rewriting and revising your work to a better standard and gain insight you can’t find elsewhere, apply to the SA Writers Centre Hachette Mentoring program,’ said Rose.

We at the Centre are excited to see what Dee and Jessie achieve with this amazing opportunity.


About the Winners:

Jessie Byrne

Jessie Byrne has spent her writing life mainly on government policy and planning documents. In 2012, freed of full time work, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide and is now working toward a PhD in that field. Jessie has worked in Canberra, Israel, Hobart and Adelaide. She is the mother of five, is married to Mike, and lives in the Adelaide beachside suburb of Port Noarlunga. Byrne’s manuscript, Angel Port, is a contemporary literary fiction/crime novel for adults. It tells the story of Nathan Newland, a Melbourne high-flyer who is forced to take a minor contract position in the Victorian coastal town of Angel Port. He is unprepared for the town’s secrets and he is presented with a choice between safety or tarnished, uncomfortable renewal.

Dee Ayer

Dee Ayers wrote essays and short articles before deciding to try her hand at fiction. After writing several short stories, and with some success in short story competitions, she decided to write a full-length novel. Ayer’s project, The Syndicate, is a commercial fiction novel about the beautiful, yet highly self-critical, Isabella Caruso and her work colleagues. When the office wins a lottery, they realise the only thing standing in the way of their dreams is each other. Greed and desperation lead them down the darkest of paths, rules are broken, friendships are shed, and morals discarded, as they seek to out manoeuvre each other to hold on to their share.

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