AWC graduate Miranda Young’s biography on Olivia Newton-John

Miranda Young didn’t expect to receive a “smashingly good confidence boost” for her birthday, but that’s exactly what she got when her mother gave her a voucher for the course Creative Writing Stage 1 at the Australian Writers' Centre.

Miranda loved the practical and inspirational nature of the course, and also went on to complete the course Copywriting Essentials. With the two courses under her belt, she felt like she had a complete writer’s toolkit. So when she was asked to write a biography of Olivia Newton-John after the singer’s passing, she knew she could tackle this big and prestigious task. Miranda’s book, Olivia: Grace and Gratitude, is out now with Wilkinson Publishing.

“It was a proud day when l picked up the first copy of my printed book,” Miranda told us. “I loved the front cover image and the artwork on the back; seeing it in the flesh was incredible. Even more than that, I really loved going to my favourite bookstores and seeing it on the shelf. That's when l believed it had all happened.”

A source of inspiration

Miranda was working as a music researcher from home and hoping to write her elusive first novel when she joined her Creative Writing Stage 1 course. She had published bookazines (a cross between a magazine and a book) and edited a collection of short stories, but dreamt of writing her own novel.

“I found the course very inspiring. It grounded me in the concepts of planning and structure involved in the art of writing and also broke down the fear that most people have of someone else reading your innermost thoughts and creations.

“I enjoyed the online format. The body of work within the course was also perfect, and l looked forward to each step each week and chatting with the other course participants. And the instructor's comments and suggestions were fair and insightful – more like a pep talk each week.”

With her newfound confidence and pep, Miranda next dove into Copywriting Essentials, which is an interesting choice to complement her fiction skills!

“I did Copywriting Essentials because l wanted my writing to become more concise and to the point,” Miranda told us. “I wanted to learn how to grab an audience's attention straight away. I have also worked in PR, and Copywriting Essentials gave me the tools for writing a better press release and online post on any topic l wanted to promote.

“The two courses l did with AWC combined well and, when completed, gave me a smashingly good confidence boost to get out there, apply for jobs in the writing field, start writing at home, and, importantly, believe that my writing was worth reading and on point.”

Writing about an icon

When Miranda was asked to write a biography on Olivia Newton-John after the Aussie icon’s passing, she was honoured, but also nervous.

“It was a bit scary, to be honest – a whole book is a big undertaking. But the publisher was lovely, and l had all my course notes … and years of music research under my belt, so I set about it,” Miranda says. “I am proud of the research and the structure and the flow of this book. I have learnt so much through the eight-month writing process.”

Although she didn’t have the opportunity to talk to Olivia Newton-John herself, Miranda did interview many people close to the singer, including music icons Molly Meldrum and Richard Wilkins, and producers who had worked with Olivia.

“This book's original idea was to make it a tribute to the Great Dame and a journey through her five-decade career. I had no idea how much this incredible woman had done, how hard she had fought against her cancer and the important legacy she left in the wellness centre she created in Melbourne. I deeply researched her life online through interviews, library resources, and news articles. Olivia's memoir ‘Don't Stop, Believin' was an emotional and stunning read, and so filled with insights into her life that l drew on that resource as well.”

It’s been an inspiring journey for Miranda since she received that unexpected birthday gift.

“I would say to anyone who wants to hone their writing skills or see if they have writing skills: AWC courses are unique. They fit into your lifestyle, and they can change your future. They are like turning off the non-working computer and rebooting it by turning it on again. You are rebooted and sent down a path that you have always wanted to go on.”

Courses completed at AWC:

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