Friday, March 11, 2016
AUT launches Visiting Writers Programme with Purgatory author Rosetta Allan
“Focus on perspective – find that vital thread that is going to help you tell your story.” That was one of the pieces of advice from Purgatory author Rosetta Allan in the first of the talks in AUT’s Visiting Writers Programme.
While working on Purgatory, Allan wrote and re-wrote the narrative using several different voices before settling on the voices of John and James, two of the book’s central characters.
“Initially I tried to write it in the mother’s voice and it didn’t work at all … [but] none of that time [writing in the other voices] was wasted, it was all research and it was helping me find the story that I wanted to tell. I immediately knew the right voice when I found it.”
Allan’s insights into the lengthy editing process were valuable for writers seeking publication.
In addition to ‘endless’ rewrites of her own during the writing process, Allan also worked with literary agent and editor Michael Gifkins, and once the novel had been accepted by Penguin she worked with a series of the publisher’s editors for the next year. Gifkins, who has since passed away, came up with the title Purgatory.
Throughout the editing process Allan says she accepted most of the different editors’ suggestions. “There were a few instances where I said ‘no that’s staying’ but not many. We’d committed to each other and I trusted them [and their] process.”
Lecturer Siobhan Harvey, who established AUT’s Visiting Writers Programme, says Allan’s insights into the editing process help writers understand “that you are not handing the publisher a perfectly complete manuscript”.
“If they accept your work, they are accepting your skill as a writer and your idea but they will still be shaping that final work.”
Allan is currently working on her second novel and has a Creative New Zealand grant to travel to St Petersburg, Russia for a three-week research trip.
Interested writers and readers are invited to attend the next AUT Visiting Writers Programme session on Tuesday 5 April 1-2pm at AUT’s City Campus