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Clare Atkins

Author

Clare Atkins is an author and television scriptwriter. Her debut novel, Nona & Me, has been shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers and the Gold Inky Award 2015. She has written for many successful Australian television dramas including Wonderland, Winners & Losers, All Saints and Home & Away.

Where were you born?

I was born in Sydney, but have since lived in many different places including Bathurst in NSW, Yirrkala in Arnhem Land (where Nona & Me was set), and La Gomera in Spain. I currently live in Darwin.

What other jobs have you had?

I started as a television scriptwriter for Home & Away at the age of 21, and have now worked in the industry for almost fifteen years. I’ve also run community development projects, including scriptwriting workshops for multicultural teenagers, and worked as a guest artist and associate producer for the internationally acclaimed arts and social change organisation Big hART on their GOLD and Namatjira projects.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Love, friendship, community, family, culture, class and how politics impact on people in their everyday lives. I particularly love working with people from different backgrounds, and weaving their real-life stories into fictional works.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Nona & Me being shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year and Gold Inky Award are definite highlights! But the whole process of getting Nona & Me – my first novel – published was a thrill. After so many years of working in television and being paid to write other people’s stories, I finally had the chance to tell a story of my own.

Other highlights include: being selected to take part in the year-long NIDA Playwrights Studio in 2005; winning the British Council’s Realise Your Dream Scholarship in 2006 and completing an attachment with Jimmy McGovern in the UK; and the privilege of sitting around the script table brainstorming and yarning with other writers and producers on some of Australia’s best loved television series – so much fun!

What are you passionate about?

Multicultural representation and stories in Australian literature, television, film and media. We are an incredibly multicultural society – why don’t all our creative works reflect that?

Testimonials

“It was entertaining, it was inspiring…she told us the truth on how she thought and felt.”

“She spoke very comfortably – I felt like I could say or ask things.”

“I remember her talking about the Yolngu community because I actually listened.”

“I liked how you told us some stories and I really like it how you told us how you came to write the book.”

“…going through the process of being a scriptwriter…was a pretty interactive activity…”

—Year 10 Students at Palmerston Senior College, 2015

“I  loved her whole manner. She allowed us to grasp her commitment and passion without any kind of political ranting. The photos were an excellent addition as they gave a vivid idea of the cultural changes she experienced. She generously included quite personal family images which built our empathy. The students were very engaged.

It was great to hear about the writing process in such detail as well. I am sure we were all fascinated to hear how TV episodes are created. Her depth of research for her novel was also most interesting. I really like the authentic way she consults with Indigenous people in order to do justice to their culture.

The way Clare responded to students’ questions was so well-paced and intelligent. Her warm manner really helped them to be brave enough to come forward. Many thanks for such a great learning opportunity!”

—Robin Clarke, English teacher, Huntingtower Co-educational Day and Boarding School, 2015

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