Di Jenkins

Varuna Alumni Monthly Features 2014

Varuna Alumni Association: the craft, the writing life


The Varuna Alumni Monthly Feature is prepared each month by Varuna's Alumni News Editor Diana Jenkins.

There are interviews and articles and we encourage you to express your views using the Comments form at the end of each Feature.
Please drop the News Desk a line if you’re so inclined – your feedback is ALWAYS welcome and very much appreciated.

An Invitation to Alumni: Contribute to the Alumni News & Monthly Features

If you have some news you wish to share with other alumni, or if you have a hankering to interview other writers, or have a great feature bubbling away in the back of your mind, the Varuna Alumni News welcomes member contributions. Please send no more than 1,000 words to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for consideration. Contributions should be attached as a Word document, and include any JPG images relevant to the piece.

Update your Alumni Profile

If you’d like to update your profile in the Varuna Alumni Directory, please email 100 words or less, plus a JPG (150px wide) photo of yourself, to Vera at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

View Alumni Features from:    2018    2017    2016   2015   2014    2013    2012    2011    2010    INDEX

Alumni Feature November 2014

On Privacy

by Deborah Rice

Deborah Rice
Deborah Rice is a senior Reporter and Presenter with ABC News, based in Sydney.

It’s ironic that the very act of pleading for privacy was what ensured the public exposure of one of the most intimate moments of my life.

That’s what happened when my sister M cast me as her antagonist in an account of our mother’s dying hours and submitted it for publication last year in an anthology about losing a parent, My Mother, My Father.

Alumni Feature October 2014

Blasting into the Blogosphere

blog by Diana Jenkins

The internet has had a profound impact on the business and practice of being a writer. I often think that so many things in life and art come down to timing, and I can’t help wonder if my own is always doomed to be just a little bit…well, off. In real life, I strive for punctuality, and my husband’s lax attitude around all things temporal is the source of more arguments and bloody thoughts than can be healthy, but in the virtual world I always seem to arrive after the boat has pulled out to sea.

Alumni Feature September 2014

ALUMNI INTERVIEW: Katerina Cosgrove

Interviewed by Alumni Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Katerina Cosgrove Varuna Alumna Katerina Cosgrove is no stranger to the high price to be paid for fictionalising the stories of real people and places. In the case of her first novel, The Glass Heart, Katerina mined the memories and stories of her own family in Greece, her ancestral heartland. In her latest novel, Bone Ash Sky, Katerina explores the multi-generational impact of war and genocide in Turkish Armenia and modern day Lebanon. It’s a volatile, inherently irreconcilable and deeply controversial space in fiction: where’s the line, and whose story is it to tell? I’m delighted to welcome Katerina to the Alumni interview suite.

Alumni Feature August 2014

Cash Me Up, Buttercup

By Diana Jenkins

My role as Varuna’s Alumni Features Editor is so interesting – you never stop surprising me, gang. I never know what’s going to strike a chord, and sometimes I’m so sure I’m onto a dead cert only to be greeted by deafening silence. It keeps me on my toes, to say the least.

Alumni Feature July 2014

Seeking Alumni insights and advice for the August Monthly Feature on funding. Please email Features Editor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any thoughts on applying for funding, or a story of how receiving funding assisted your development and/or enabled you to research a book, take up a Varuna fellowship or similar. Please send any thoughts, links or ideas by 27 July 2014. Thank you!

Festival Fever

by Diana Jenkins

May’s annual Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF) brought Thinking Season to Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Artistic Director Jemma Birrell’s second program was a rich cornucopia of writers, books and ideas, spread across over 300 events and a growing cluster of venues. The 2014 festival was also blessed with picture perfect conditions, the unbroken string of cloudless, warm sunny days rivalling any of summer and perhaps contributing to the record crowds that descended upon the historic Hickson St Wharf precinct.

Alumni Feature June 2014

Lost at Sea

by Diana Jenkins

not listening Sometimes I wonder if I am wilfully deaf – maybe the fat lady’s been singing for years now and I just refuse to hear her throaty warble. How else to explain my unwillingness and even fundamental inability to let go of a manuscript that shows every sign of terminal illness?

Alumni Feature May 2014


author of The Italians at Cleat’s Corner Store

Interviewed by Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Jo Riccioni Italians at Cleat's Corner Store cover Debut author and Varuna Alumna Jo Riccioni has tapped into her own family’s multicultural Anglo-Italian history and wartime experiences to pen an absorbing novel, examining sibling rivalry and difference, post-WWII village life in rural England, female frustrations and fantasies and much more. I’m delighted to welcome Jo to the interview suite for the May Member Interview.

Alumni Feature April 2014


Interviewed by Alumni Features Editor, Diana Jenkins

Charlotte Wood Interviewing the interviewer: that’s what I found myself doing earlier this month, when I spoke to novelist, occasional journalist and long-time Varuna Alumna Charlotte Wood.

Animal People cover Charlotte will be known to many of you thanks not only to her growing body of award-winning writing, most recently the excellent Animal People, but her significant contribution to Varuna and its programs over many years. I have Charlotte to thank for my own small role producing these features each month; she shall always be the High Priestess of the Alumni News despite retiring from the news desk a few years ago now.

But the woman just can’t help herself. Relieved of this editorship, it wasn’t so very long before Charlotte was busy – very busy – creating another.

Alumni Feature March 2014


Interviewed by Alumni Features Editor, Diana Jenkins

It’s been my habit in the past to concentrate Alumni Interviews on those Varuna writers who have a new book out. The reasons are fairly obvious: it makes sense for them, from a promotional standpoint, and it creates a clear context for our exchange. But it’s worth remembering and indeed celebrating all the other types of milestones and experiences making up the average writer’s journey, so this year I’ll be branching out, tapping alumni members at many different stages of development, asking them to share their different struggles and those small successes that may not yet include a publishing deal or representation. This month I’d like to welcome Sydney writer Sarah Price to the alumni interview suite.

Alumni Feature February 2014

Nervous White Female

By Diana Jenkins

Happy New Year! It’s a gorgeous day here at Alumni News HQ and it’s been a glorious summer so far – I hope you’ve all had a wonderful time reading and writing over the holiday season in addition to relaxing with family and friends. Welcome back; may we all have a productive and rewarding writing year.

I’m going to start 2014 with a small confession: there’s something I didn’t tell you about the ASA’s National Writers’ Congress. It was a deliberate omission, because I always planned to share it with you, but I feel a small tingle of repressed terror now I’m casting my mind back to that October afternoon in Ultimo. It wasn’t easy fronting up, you see. I’d never been speed dating before.