Alumni

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion’s novels would not exist without RMIT’s PWE course.

‘If you’re going to be a writer, you need to understand about craft,’ Graeme says. You also need to understand how to go about writing and have your work honestly reviewed. You need to practice – a lot, perhaps being pushed outside your comfort zone. You need industry connections and to know how the industry works. You need peer support.

You can get all of this without enrolling in a course, but a course is probably the easiest way to get all of these things and not skimp on things you find too hard. Having completed a lot of tertiary study and taught at university himself, Graeme knew a thing or two about education, but RMIT’s PWE teaching model was by far the most effective he’d encountered, so much so that he borrowed from their approach.

A big influence on Graeme’s writing was novel-teacher, Toni Jordan, who addressed the entire group at an industry familiarisation session. Toni’s presentation resonated with Graeme. He thought, ‘Hey, I can do that. That’s a picture I can follow. He also credits Michelle Aung Thin, Ania Walwicz and Liz Steele as teachers who made a difference to his writing.

Michelle had a PhD – really knew her stuff about craft, while Ania was a wonderful teacher who had a lot to teach me, particularly about literature he would not have read otherwise. As part of Liz’s Steele’s editing subject, Text Publishing’s Alison Arnold was invited to explain the role of Acquisitions Editor. Of course, many eager authors were ready to ask the question – do you take submissions?

Alison suggested they send their manuscript directly to her. Graeme replied, ‘It’ll be on your desk by 4 o’clock!’ then cut his classes for the rest of the day and raced home to prepare his manuscript.

The rest is history. The Rosie Project and Graeme’s four subsequent novels are published by Text.

Find out more about Graeme at graemesimsion.com.

This profile was written and researched by Ann Bolch from A Story To Tell.