Where Are They Now : Felicity Castagna

August 3, 2018

Congratulations to Felicity Castagna on her Miles Franklin Literary Award nomination for her book No More Boats. Felicity is one of six authors selected for this year’s prestigeous award with the winner being announced later in August. We caught up with Felicity to see what she has been up to since adapting her novel The Incredible Here and Now  for our stage back in July 2017.

Things are super busy at the moment but very exciting. No More Boats has just been picked up in several other countries so I’m working hard writing essays and explanatory notes for the book so that the cultures of Parramatta and wider Australia aren’t lost on international audiences. I’m working on two new books one of which, The Girls is kind of a feminist version of The Incredible Here and Now: it’s about two girls who steal a car from a group of boys who are picking on them in the North Parramatta McDonald’s Parking lot. They end up driving it all through western Sydney and out to the Snowy Mountains and back again, collecting the stories of other women they meet on the way and trying to find a way to express their own.

I think the creative project I’m most excited about at the moment is a young adult novel I’m co-authoring with Faith Chaza and Sheila Pham. It’s about the aftermath of a wild local party in which a school student is accidentally killed. The novel is an experiment in how to tell cross-cultural stories and will be the first of its kind published in Australia. After working on writing the script for The Incredible Here and Now with National Theatre of Parramatta I really saw what an amazing experience it is to work collaboratively on a writing project- something that rarely happens when you are a novelist. I loved the way that the actors, directors, designers, sound technicians and so many others put their own mark on the story and made it a far stronger piece. It was also such a great learning experience for me as a writer to write beside other people and to observe how they told and interpreted stories. I hope to capture back a little of that experience in the book that I’m writing with Faith and Sheila.

I’m also working with Faith and Sheila on a mentorship scheme for western Sydney women writers called The Finishing School. We wanted to provide a space for women who have reached beyond the emerging stage of their career and need that extra bit of help to become professional writers. Finishing School is a three year program in which all the women involved are working towards an entire fiction or non-fiction manuscript. They receive one-on-one feedback on their manuscripts as well as master classes with guest authors and the opportunity to share and promote their work. The program has been really success so far. We’ve had two authors recently signed with publishers, Chloe Higgins for her memoir with Picador and Rawah Arja just signed for a young adult novel with Giramondo Publishing. We have three other writers with manuscripts under consideration and expect that there will be more good news soon!  I’m also continuing to run Studio Stories at Parramatta Artist Studios, a storytelling night in which we feature western Sydney authors.