Finch Publishing is proud to support Australian writers through an annual prize for an unpublished memoir manuscript. The prize is $10,000 and publication. The 2014 title will be launched (with simultaneous publication) at the Sydney Writers Festival, 19 - 25 May 2014. The prize attracts entries nationally and results in requests for the author to do additional publicity and events after the announcement. Last year’s winner, Green Vanilla Tea, was reprinted immediately after publication. Foreign rights for this title have been sold in North America (New Harbinger) and Korea (Ulysses).
Leaping into a nature conservation project in the Simpson Desert with your new husband is one thing; coping with the reality of 45-degree heat, drought and isolation in the face of an unplanned and difficult pregnancy is quite another. Fortunately, Karen Harrland survived to tell her tale and to reflect on both the beauties and the hardships of outback living in her book Spinifex Baby.
Karen and her husband Al Dermer were planning on building a house in the cold, lush green climate of Tasmania when an impulse decision on Karen’s part led them to accept a nature conservation position in central Australia. For most of their time on the station, they had only each other for company - even the postman only came out every couple of weeks – and when Karen fell pregnant unexpectedly, things took a turn for the worse. Through a difficult pregnancy and overwhelming post-natal depression, she learnt that the harsh environment was not the biggest challenge she had to face:
'This desert with its rolling dune fields is an unforgiving land that relentlessly destroys even its own ancient beauty. It is a place where, compared to the age of the landscape, a single life means less than a grain of sand. I could not have known that the biggest challenge I would face would not be from the piercing sun, not from the unforgiving dust, not even from the aching loneliness of isolation, but from the treachery of my own self.'
Karen conjures up wonderfully evocative images of life in the desert, that sit beautifully alongside the minutiae of daily life as a new mother, including her battles to push a pram up a sand dune and coping with the realisation that the first solid food her baby ate was a massive blowfly.
About the Author
Karen Harrland has packed bananas in northern Queensland, studied Environmental Management at university, made djembe drums in Africa, staked road kill wombats to the ground for Tassie Devils to eat in Tasmania and helped wayward youths learn how to plant trees. Along with her partner Al, she has also managed half-a-million acres of conservation land in Australia’s Simpson Desert. Currently, they live in their self-built home with their three children in Tasmania, where Karen is a garden teacher at a primary school teaching children how to respect the earth and each other, and to enjoy good food. Karen also writes obsessively and passionately every chance she gets.
"Far from a misery memoir . . . this is a story of resilience. [Karen Harrland's] nuanced descriptions of the beauty of the desert and her writing on the recesses of depression take the reader to places they may never otherwise experience." Rachel Edwards, the "Daily Telegraph""
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 1st June 2014
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 15.2 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.33