‘I hadn’t started writing before I went to RMIT,’ says Cath Crowley.
During the PWE course there were so many people who ‘got into the weeds’ with her and her writing that she credits the course entirely for launching her career. It provided her with skills and confidence, but also networks.
Di Websdale-Morrissey’s support instilled sufficient confidence for Cath to submit work to The Age, where a couple of pieces were published. Then when she found herself with Clare Renner in Writing for Young Adults, she realised, ‘Oh, this is where I want to be!’ She met Alison Arnold through the course, who’s become a life-long friend and Cath’s unofficial editor. ‘Ania’s [Walwizc] poetry class was amazing.’ And the editing teachers ‘woke me up to the fact that I’d been lazy with language’.
Cath clearly recalls waiting for her local newsagency to open to see her first piece in print in The Age. ‘I remember Clare saying to me, “You’ll be as excited about that as you are about getting a novel published.” She was right!’ Cath makes sure she celebrates all the tiny wins.
Another early career highlight was Cath’s first literary award – the Ethel Turner award for Graffiti Moon, which went on to win the Prime Minister’s Award for YA Fiction. This significant monetary prize allowed her to keep writing as did winning the award again in 2017 with her novel Words in Deep Blue. Yet Cath’s biggest career high point is more recent and more collaborative. Take Three Girls was written with Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell, which won the Children’s Book Council of Australia annual award.
The trajectory PWE helped set for Cath meant she was able to work with editors, such as Alison Walsh, ‘who really make you work better’. The balance of practical and theory worked well for Cath. She appreciated being able to ‘talk about a sentence, the language, without nailing down why you loved it’.
To date, Cath Crowley has published ten novels and has won many literary awards. Find out more about Cath at cathcrowleyauthor.com.
This profile was written and researched by Ann Bolch from A Story To Tell.