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O’Hanlon wins Varuna/NEWC Fellowship

James O’Hanlon has won the 2021 Varuna/New England Writers’ Centre (NEWC) Fellowship for his manuscript ‘I Love Spiders’.

O’Hanlon receives a one week writing residency at Varuna, The National Writers’ House, in the Blue Mountains. The fellowship, which will be taken up in 2022, also includes full board and accommodation at Varuna, funds towards travel and a one-on-one consultation with a Varuna expert.

Selected from a shortlist of two announced earlier this month, O’Hanlon will work on his winning manuscript during his residency. ‘I Love Spiders’ draws upon ‘groundbreaking’ research to form a ‘lighthearted’ approach to the ‘fascinating and misunderstood world of spiders’.

Varuna judges praised ‘I Love Spiders’ for ‘the originality of the concept and the potential to be transformative for readers’, calling his writing style ‘vivid’ and ‘immersive’. Varuna executive director Veechi Stuart said: ‘James’s submission provoked lively and positive discussion around spiders. His writing is crafted and lyrical, and through his enthusiastic and warmly anecdotal style, we were drawn to his subject matter. His plan for Varuna was specific and achievable. We look forward to welcoming him to Varuna in 2022.’

‘James is a wonderful writer and artist, with the scientific background and communications experience to make this project a reality,’ said NEWC chair Sophie Masson. ‘We are delighted that he has won the 2021 fellowship to work on his ambitious and important project.’

O’Hanlon is a writer and illustrator from Armidale in regional NSW. Of his win, he said: ‘I can’t quite believe I have been selected for the 2021 Varuna NEWC Fellowship. I am so grateful for the opportunity. Working from home with a toddler is pretty difficult, so the opportunity to spend some time at Varuna is priceless and will push my writing to the next level and give me the opportunity to make enough progress on my book, ‘I Love Spiders’ that I can begin approaching agents and hopefully start the publication process.’

In its third year, the fellowship is awarded to a writer currently living in the New England region or who has previously lived there for at least five years.


Category: Local news