By Bonny Burrows

Children’s author Enid Blyton ignited Melisabeth Cooper Fell’s love of literature.
The Pakenham woman and 2018 Writing a Novel Melbourne Scholarship winner was introduced to books at an early age and has been reading ever since.
“Early on in our lives, mum would bring home an Enid Blyton book every week which has led to a disgustingly chronic reading habit,” Ms Cooper Fell said.
“It also helped to only have two channels on the TV.”
And now thanks to the scholarship and a life-long obsession with books, the Pakenham woman is one step closer to realising her dream of becoming a published novelist.
In March Ms Cooper Fell will undertake study at the Faber Writing Academy at Allen and Unwin after winning a complimentary place in the course with her submission for an upcoming novel The Clear Dark Water.
The academy is Australia’s only creative writing course undertaken within a publishing house and has a track record for teaching some of the country’s best writers.
“It’s exciting but surreal. At the same time I’m really appreciative (for the opportunity),” Ms Cooper Fell said.
Ms Cooper Fell’s submission was from a short story she wrote for a magazine asking for pieces on environmental dystopias.
“(These are) two areas I have a fascination with so I got writing but didn’t finish it in time for the magazine,” Ms Cooper Fell, who works as a vet, said.
“It’s set in a world where water is as scarce and centred around a character called Benny who makes a right choice but in the world he lives in, it’s the wrong choice.
“After writing the story, I found I kept going back to it to explore the other characters until I came to realisation I am actually working on a novel.
“The inspiration came from the recent time when Melbourne water storages were at an all-time low. I just wondered what if (it) got worse?”
Ms Cooper Fell was lucky enough to have her first chapter published in the Crush anthology from Midnight Sun press and has also had other pieces published in the Newcastle Short Story Award Anthology and SALA Anthology.
However, the course will be her first attempt at writing a novel.
“I’m most excited about starting and meeting the other novelists and probably most nervous about getting the words down and making sure they’re really good words,” Ms Cooper Fell said.
A fan of the works of Ursula LeGuin, China Mieville, Geradline Brooks and Margaret Atwood, Ms Cooper Fell hopes to make somewhat of a living out of writing, but is realistic of its challenges.
“I work as a vet which is something I’m unlikely to give up in the long or short term,” she said.
“It would be lovely to write full time but the average annual salary for a writer is of the level of starving artist, and besides, I’d miss the animals and my chats with their owners.
“If I’m lucky, I’ll achieve a stable balance between the two.”


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