History repeats itself for writer Emily Paull who has been shortlisted for the Fogarty Literary Award

Emily Paull’s novel, The Good Daughter, was highly commended in the 2021 Fogarty Literary Award and now this year’s novel The Dreamers is on the shortlist.

Emily Paull is a Western Australian librarian, author and book reviewer. In 2019, her debut collection of short fiction, Well-Behaved Women, was published by Margaret River Press.

In this blogpost she discusses the inspiration behind her new novel. Emily will also be in on the Fremantle Press podcast this weekend so make sure you’re subscribed on your favourite app.

Describe your manuscript in your own words.

The Dreamers is a work of historical fiction set in Fremantle in the lead-up to and throughout the Second World War. It’s about two people in their late teens who are from very different worlds but who meet and fall in love anyway. Sarah is from a privileged background and dreams of being an actress but has a very complex family life at home. Winston is a working-class boy who’s always struggled to feel good enough and has never felt like he could afford the luxury of a dream – until he meets Sarah. But their families – and in particular their fathers — are connected by a dark incident in their past.

What inspired you to write it?

The book was inspired by an album. I’d just got back from a family trip to Japan in 2008 and had scoured the record shops to find a CD I couldn’t get here in Australia. It was called The Compound and the band was called Search/Rescue. Listening to that album in my room as a 17-year-old, I could imagine a book being suggested by each track and I wrote out a chapter-by-chapter plan based on the songs on the album. It’s been a long time since then (15 years in fact and almost as many drafts!) so the story has changed quite a lot. It used to be a murder mystery!

It was around about that time that I discovered Kate Morton’s novels and became fixated on becoming a historical novelist. I’ve always been interested in early 20th century history, and I can’t seem to get enough of World War Two novels even now.

What does it mean to you to make the shortlist of the 2023 Fogarty Literary Award?

How can I even put that into words?

This is a book which I have written and rewritten and given up on and gone back to again a hundred times or more. I’ve been working on this book for most of my adult life, and I’m too stubborn to just leave it alone in the bottom drawer.

Writing can be rewarding, but there are also moments where I feel so deeply stuck and alone – especially in this age of social media where writing on Instagram looks like it comes easily to everyone else. I had started to ask myself if I could really do this thing I wanted to do –  write a book. I know I shouldn’t need external validation to be able to write, but I’m not ashamed to say that it feels really good to receive it.  (Okay, maybe a little embarrassed, if I’m honest.)

Fremantle Press has been a publisher that I have dreamed of working with for a very long time, and I love the work that they do supporting WA writing. The Fogarty Literary Award has unearthed some incredible writing by young West Australians. I feel humbled and grateful to have made this year’s shortlist.

To find out if Emily has won the award, join us at the Fogarty Literary Ceremony on Thursday 25 May at The Edith Spiegeltent at ECU. Tickets are free and available from Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/fogarty-literary-award-and-great-big-book-read-2023-tickets-557569474307

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