Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ask an Editor - Michèle Drouart

I know a lot of us out there are aspiring writers and enjoy advice from people in the industry. Have a read of Michele's bio, and if you like, leave a question for her in the comments section. I will then pass them on to her.

Michèle Drouart is the author of Into the Wadi, a memoir about the year she spent with her Muslim Arab husband’s family in a small village in Jordan. Published in 2000 by Fremantle Arts Centre Press (now Fremantle Press), Into the Wadi won the top award — the Premier’s Prize — at the WA Premier’s Book Awards in June 2001. A 2006 review in the Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies in the US (Indiana University Press) states that her story ‘offers a contemplative, non-stereotypical look at the complexities of cross-cultural experience’.

Into the Wadi sets out to challenge — and to write against — the stereotyping of Arab people and cultures by much Western writing and media. She attempts to offer a more balanced representation of people in the Middle East than can be found in books like Princess or Forbidden Love. Moving away from generalisations, she narrates her personal experience of one particular place and family. She believes that readers are no longer willing to accept the preconceptions about the Middle East that have dogged Western ways of seeing. Her memoir sold over 10,000 copies in Australia and has also been published in Germany in three separate editions. 

Since the publication of Into the Wadi, Michele opened a business with two separate but related components: a creative writing school and an editing and assessment service. Both have flourished uninterrupted for 10 years.

Michèle’s writing courses resist the often intimidating over-structuring of educational institutions. All her classes are held in bookshops, restaurants and cafes, and all encourage the sharing of ideas. ‘In the past,’ Michèle says, ‘the cafés in the old quarters of European cities were where the real exchange of ideas among philosophers, poets, artists and writers took place.’ With this inspiration, Michèle ensures ‘a safe environment for the vulnerable creative mind’ (student Maree Macpherson, Floreat).

The courses in creative writing have three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. All meet for two hours weekly for 6 weeks. In addition, Michèle meets 6 to 8 times a year with her advanced students who are completing their manuscripts.

As an accredited freelance editor with the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), Michèle has worked with many different (non-specialist) texts, but now focuses increasingly on editing for aspiring writers. Her manuscript assessment service has grown steadily since she added it to her business programme in 2003.

Visit her website for more information.

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