Biography

rachelhennessywebI was born in Canberra in 1973 and have lived and worked in Newcastle, Brisbane, Sydney, London and Adelaide. I am now based in Melbourne.

I originally started out in theatre and wrote a couple of plays, including a short piece that was performed at the Swort & Sweet Festival in Sydney. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see it myself, but my family attended and said it was the best of the night (naturally).

I returned to prose in 2003 when I enrolled in the University of Adelaide Creative Writing program. During that first year I wrote a number of short stories, as well as the beginnings of my first novel. The next year I began the one year Masters course, under tutor Dr Jan Harrow, and work-shopped the entire first half of the manuscript. By the end of 2004 I had finished THE QUAKERS and began to send it out. I didn’t approach publishers but, instead, entered it into the Vogel Award, the Varuna Manuscript Development program, as well as the Unpublished Manuscript Award, run through the Adelaide Festival Awards. In 2006, I won the Adelaide Festival Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and two years later, Wakefield Press published THE QUAKERS.

In the meantime, I was also getting my short stories published in anthologies: Small City Tales of Strangeness and Beauty, Emerge: New Australian Writing, On Edge (which I also co-edited) and The Body, all published by Wakefield Press. My stories have also appeared in Spiny Babbler and in the new writing magazine Wet Ink.

My one and only foray into film so far has been the short film Not Waving, Drowning, which I wrote from an original idea by documentary film maker Shalom Almond. The film was screened at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival and toured the international gay and lesbian film festival circuit.

THE HEAVEN I SWALLOWED is my second novel and tells the story of Grace and Mary, a white woman and Aboriginal girl in 1950s Australia. It was Runner Up in the 2008 Vogel Award and was published by Wakefield Press in 2013. This novel was part of my Creative Writing PhD.

In 2011 I edited and wrote an introduction to a collection of short stories for the Nillumbik Shire Council, Illuminations: The Alan Marshall Short Story Award 2003-2010 and, in 2012, I was a Hot Desk Fellow at The Wheeler Centre, writing a non-fiction essay on miscarriage.

I am currently working on my third novel, titled KEEP ME CLOSE, which explores the fine line between writing fiction and stealing stories.

When not writing, I like to read (surprise, surprise), play with my two young daughters, watch films with my partner and plan camping travel trips which won’t happen for a while.

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