Di Jenkins

Varuna Alumni Monthly Features 2017

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..

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Alumni Feature May 2017


The 2017 Eric Dark Memorial Lecture: Crossing the Line

by Professor Wendy Rogers (Interview and introduction by Features Editor Diana Jenkins)

Wendy Rogers For those of us in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, May is one of the hottest months of the year, despite the rapidly plunging mercury. Yes, it’s Sydney Writers’ Festival time again, with the Varuna SWF program serving up an extraordinary array of Australian and international talent in Katoomba. Undoubtedly one of the Varuna SWF festival highlights is the 2017 Eric Dark Memorial Lecture, to be delivered at the Carrington Hotel by Wendy Rogers, Professor of Clinical Ethics at Macquarie University.

Alumni Feature April 2017


Alumni Interview: Katherine Johnson

Interview and Introduction by Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Katherine Johnson This month it gives me great pleasure to welcome novelist Katherine Johnson to the Alumni Interview Suite. Katherine will be a guest of the Varuna Sydney Writers’ Festival in May, wending her way back to the mountains after first staying at Varuna a decade ago as an aspiring author. There’s something especially gratifying about Katherine’s trajectory; she personifies ‘the Varuna writer.’ Her development and ongoing success represent a prime example of the work Mick Dark hoped the National Writers’ House would do when he first gifted his parents’ house to the writers of Australia. Here is a gifted writer, based in Tasmania, whose debut manuscript won a place on a Varuna program, an award that led directly to publication. Six years later, her second novel travelled the same path: it too won a Varuna award before being published to acclaim. The very concreteness of Varuna’s role in nurturing Katherine’s talent not only rewards the work of so many unsung heroes who work so tirelessly behind the scenes, it also stokes the flicker of hope for those of us still dropping crumbs in a dark wood, writers for whom the path to publication is far less straightforward.

Alumni Feature March 2017


Writing from the wound

By Features Editor Diana Jenkins

Hanya Yanagihara

Finishing A Little Life by American author Hanya Yanagihara, several impulses struck simultaneously. The first was to put a pillow over my head and scream and weep myself to sleep. The second was to jump on the bed in a mad frenzy of joy and relief that it was finally over and I could start reading something else instead. I’m free! Free! The third was to begin an immediate internet search on Yanagihara to try to discover what the hell would drive someone to write a story like A Little Life, a tale so awful, so often, that I think a little piece of my heart broke in a way I will never be able to mend. Why? Why would she do such a thing to me?