Batlow author Sulari Gentill is stunned and ecstatic after being awarded a $15,000 grant from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.
Sulari is one of four authors and two visual artists who have been awarded a total of $80,000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund through its Create Grants program.
The grants are intended to provide vital support to mid-career writers and visual artists to create and develop new work.
“I know the calibre of writer in the pool for this grant and so I’m very honoured and grateful to be selected,” she said.
She wasn’t expecting it.
“Not at all,” she said.
“These days there is less and less money available for the Arts, and so grants are always hotly contested. Australia has some truly wonderful writers, many of whom, I knew, were throwing their hats into the ring for this grant. I do really believe in this novel—but beyond that my expectations were realistic. The outcome was a brilliant surprise.”
Being an author is not a licence to print money for most, so the money will be very useful.
“Generally speaking, novelists work on spec,” Sulari said.
“We write books not knowing if they’ll ever earn a cent. We roll the dice with the hundreds or thousands of hours we put into creating a story—time which is generally funded by ourselves and our families. The grant essentially works a little bit like a commission or an investment in a novel. Financially it helps a great deal. But aside from the money, the grant feels like a vote of confidence in my ability to tell this story. It works to counter the self-doubt which is part and parcel of this profession.”
Sulari explained the process leading to the awarding of the grant.
“The application involved pitching or making a case for the novel you wished to write, providing a CV of your past work, awards, etcetera, and the first ten pages of the manuscript,” she said.
“I believe there were 178 applications, 102 from writers and 76 from visual artists. From that pool, the selection panel awarded just six grants, four to writers and two to visual artists. I wasn’t involved in that part of it, of course. For me it was just a matter of waiting.”
The CAL Create Grant was awarded for Letters from Leo, which, when it is finished, will be a post-modern cross-cultural thriller that sets up stories within stories, entwining the narratives in a climax that can be read on many levels.
“I suppose it’s in the same genre as Crossing the Lines, which I wrote a couple of years ago,” Sulari said.
“I do like to explore ideas about where stories begin and end.”