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Dr Dylan Coleman, 2016 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellow

This is the second in a series of three blogs about the writers recognised in the 2016 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship Competition.

Dylan Coleman is a Kokatha-Greek writer, filmmaker and academic from Thevenard, South Australia. She currently teaches Indigenous health at University of Adelaide and has been proudly awarded a 2016 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship for her novel ‘Clear Water White Death’.  Dylan’s writing career began while studying a Masters in creative writing at University of Adelaide.  In 2011, she received the David Uniapon Award for Unpublished Indigenous Writers for her first novel Mazin Grace published by UQP.

‘Clear Water White Death’ is her Fellowship-winning manuscript and a tribute novel to her father, a Greek fisherman born and raised in Australia. The novel is centred around a Greek-Aboriginal family residing on the far west coast of South Australia.  A deeply personal story, this novel touches on themes of loss, grief and mental illness and the unsettling effects on family and community.  ‘Clear Water White Death’ is a gripping retelling of family resilience.

Dylan’s novel highlights the beauty of the South Australian seascapes where she grew up as a child. Her writing style reflects the powerful environments that she writes about on the page, and her strong connection with Country.  ‘The sea was central to everything,’ Dylan says, as she retells memories of her younger self exploring the lunar-like landscapes of pink lakes and sand dunes and the tides washing up on the coastline.  ‘I have these vivid memories of my father emerging from a day spent on the sea, his skin all salt encrusted and sunburnt.  Dad was the epitome of the ruggedness of our country’.  These memories and connections with Country were all collated as the inspiration for writing her father’s story and heavily influenced her prose.

‘Clear Water White Death’ was praised as a cinematic story by an author who has a real eye for clever storytelling. Dylan says she is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with the black&write! team over the upcoming months.  Likewise, black&write! are very excited to be working with Dylan to provide editorial development and mentoring – and to see the success of such a powerful novel added to the growing list of black&write! titles.

As an expected 2017 release ‘Clear Water White Death’ will stand alongside great Australian voices such as Tim Winton and Favel Parrett. It’s the saltwater and the sandpaper texture of shark skins, the story of a family deeply moved by the fight to survive that really draws readers in.  Readers can expect to feel and taste the saltiness in ‘Clear Water White Death’ – and it’s the salt that both stings and heals a family’s history – it’s not one to be missed!