Five years on simmer

A MT LAWLEY author has won a WA book award for her literary tale of same-sex love and regret.

Yvette Walker snagged the emerging writers gong for her debut novel Letters to the End of Love at this week’s premier’s book awards.

The epistolary tale—chronicling love letters written by gay, lesbian and straight couples from Bournemouth, Perth and Cork—took Walker five years to write.

“The epistolary novel used to be very popular, but it faded away and is now only used sparingly in books like The Color Purple by Alice Walker,” she says.

“I started life as a poet, so I like to agonise over every word, and it took me a long time to finish this book.

“I call it the slow-food approach: I’m not very prolific, and at one point almost gave up writing.”

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• Yvette Walker. Photo supplied | WA State Library

Romantic architecture

Walker adds the Perth section of her book—a lesbian love affair involving a local bookseller—celebrates the city’s romantic architecture: “I touch on the beauty of the Trinity Arcade, St George’s Cathedral and how Perth is slowly getting built over,” she says.

“Living in Perth definitely colours my writing.”

Walker, 44, has been writing in fits and starts since her early 20s. She won a national short story award in 2003, but her big breakthrough came this year when Letters to the End of Love was published by University of Queensland Press, which kick-started the careers of David Malouf and Peter Carey.

Walker won $10,000 in the premier’s award, but still works at Collins Booksellers in Cottesloe and will remain a part-time writer.

“The reality is that most Australian writers have a day job,” she says. “Only the big names like Tim Winton, for obvious reasons, get to stay at home.

“But there is a great community of writers in Perth and I’ve just been invited to join Amanda Curtin’s writer’s group.”

Mt Lawley MP Michael Sutherland says he likes the idea of an effete Mills and Boon.

“Most creative writers don’t make much from royalties these days, and the days of big advances are long gone, so I hope the money from this award will help Yvette progress with her writing,” he says.

Walker says she has five or six ideas that could form the basis for her next novel. Letters to the End of Love was completed as part of a creative arts doctorate.

Walker lives in Mt Lawley with her wife, filmmaker Melanie Rodriga.


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