ECU’s very own alumni and sessional academic staff member for the School of Arts and Humanities, Holden Sheppard has been announced the winner of the Ray Koppe Residency Award from the Australian Society of Authors.
Holden Sheppard began writing when he realised that feelings – especially painful ones – weren’t something boys were supposed to talk about.
Twenty years later, Holden is a Young Adult author with short stories published in Indigo Journaland page seventeen. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the ABC, DNA Magazine and FasterLouder. After graduating from Edith Cowan University’s Creative Writing program, Holden received a prestigious ArtStart grant from the Australia Council for the Arts in 2015. Originally from the Midwest town of Geraldton, he is now based in Perth, where he is the Vice President of the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre.
Holden explains; “I am originally from a country town in Western Australia, so the notion of the judges over east reading my manuscript and selecting it as the winner of this award is just incredible.”
Holden has always been a walking contradiction: a gym junkie who has played Pokémon competitively; a sensitive geek who loves aggressive punk rock; and a bogan who learned to speak French. He is the only writer he knows who has switched to decaf and lived to tell the tale, and he's quit smoking more times than he cares to admit.
Set in Geraldton in regional Western Australia, Invisible Boys is a raw, confronting Young Adult novel. It tackles homosexuality, masculinity, angst and suicide with a nuanced and unique perspective, and depicts the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity with painful honesty, devastating consequence and, ultimately, hope.
The Residency offers a week’s retreat at the Writer’s House Varuna in Katoomba NSW. Holden will be provided with a private working space to further develop his work-in-progress, as well as accommodation and meals. He states, “Residencies such as this are so crucial for us emerging authors to help us establish our careers and dedicate time to our creative practice, so I really want to thank the Australian Society of Authors, Varuna – the National Writers’ House and the Koppe Family for making this opportunity possible for myself and other young writers”.