Robert Edeson on the Hungerford Award

Fremantle Press author Robert Edeson won the T.A.G Hungerford Award (now the City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award) back in 2012 for his novel The Weaver Fish. Now with a second book, Bad to Worse, under his belt, he passes on his experience of entering the prize and explains why you should enter this year.

What made you apply for the Hungerford Award?

I’d written a manuscript, but the prospect of getting published seemed pretty pessimistic. I looked online and a lot of publishers said they don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Then I looked at agent websites and they said they’re not taking authors and so on. So that was rather dispiriting, but then I went to the Fremantle Press website. It had information about the Hungerford Award and I thought, well, at least it’s a way of getting the manuscript read. I put it in and lo and behold, I won. Incredible!

Had you been published before?

I’d had papers published in science journals and things like that, but never any fiction published. I was incredibly fortunate because it’s only held every two years and when I looked at the Fremantle Press website it was coming up, so that was very lucky.

How did you feel when you’d found out you won?

Oh it was just an amazing feeling. I didn’t have a clue how good my manuscript was, I knew it was unusual but I didn’t know how well that would go down. It felt incredible – like a validation of all my work. The announcement came just as I was retiring from my profession, in the same week, so I suddenly had this new interest.

How did you find the publishing process?

The whole process was very enjoyable for me. I’ve said a number of times that a writer setting out couldn’t be more fortunate than to have Georgia Richter as their editor. Fremantle Press as a company is a bit of a risk-taker, which is a great thing because it opens the door to new kinds of literary merit and originality.

Do you feel like you’ve grown as an author by coming through Fremantle Press?

I’ve certainly learned a lot. I think Fremantle Press is a fantastic organisation and everyone I’ve worked with down there has been really nice and cooperative and fun. It’s just been a complete change of life for me, it’s so wonderful to re-identify myself with the support of Fremantle Press.

Would you encourage aspiring writers to enter the Hungerford Award? And what advice would you give them?

I would certainly encourage them to enter. It’s fantastic really, can you imagine all of those unpublished writers with Western Australian connections having a manuscript to submit? That’s an amazing industry of writers.

My advice would be to just have a go. At the very least it’s a way of getting your manuscript not just read, but read by outstanding writers who are going to be very fair critics.

There have also been shortlisted entrants who have gone on to get publishing contracts from the prize, so you never know what might happen.

Books discussed
The Weaver Fish
Bad to Worse

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