Veronica Lando grew up above a bookshop – so it was natural that she would dream of becoming a writer herself one day. She loved crime fiction, but was hesitant about how to start writing her own. After throwing herself into the world of writing, she can now say she is a published author with the release of her crime thriller The Whispering, which has been shortlisted for the People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award 2023 in the Queensland Literary Awards.
“Becoming a published author always felt like some far-fetched dream that only happened to other people,” Veronica says. “It was only when I got stuck into some of my AWC courses and learned to develop (and stick to) a writing routine, that I started to take myself more seriously. Once I began getting feedback on courses and could see my writing improve, I finally felt that I might be onto something.”
And she most certainly was onto something – the manuscript for her debut novel The Whispering won the prestigious Banjo Prize in 2021 and has now been published by HarperCollins. She signed a deal for two more books: The Drowning Girls, which was published in July 2023, and another book to follow in 2024.
“The Australian Writers' Centre has provided me with the opportunity to get my book published with a major publishing house, something that only a few years ago I'd have thought would never have been possible,” says Veronica. “They definitely kickstarted my writing, pushed it forwards and got me over the finish line.”
Developing a writing practice
Veronica’s writing has been described as an “unmissable new voice on the Australian crime fiction scene” and readers have raved about her debut novel. She is particularly inspired by the Australian landscape and The Whispering draws on the evocative locations of Far North Queensland.
But the initial spark came from a rather different experience.
“I got the kernel of an idea for my debut novel while getting a massage! I let the idea sit for a few months, while I worked on some short stories, before actually touching it.
“I'm a cohesive planner, and so started off by spending a month plotting the entire story. I ended up with a chapter-by-chapter breakdown before I even started the first draft. By that stage, I was so excited to get stuck into it that the first draft only took me 11 weeks. I set a daily word count and a deadline, and I stuck to them.”
Veronica’s admirable writing routine certainly paid off. She then entered a manuscript prize that would change her life.
“After a few months of editing, I sent the manuscript off to HarperCollins not expecting anything to come of it. I will never forget the moment I found out that I'd won The Banjo Prize. I was positively shocked, and of course, absolutely thrilled. At that moment, I remember feeling as if a new door had opened and I got a peek at an exciting new future.”
Creativity and support
That exciting future started with a suite of creative writing courses at the Australian Writers' Centre – around eight courses in two years! Veronica particularly found the support of the Novel Writing Essentials course an enlightening experience.
“The feedback given from my tutor (Bernadette Foley) during the Novel Writing Essentials course really helped to shape my writing and identify areas that I needed to work on, as well as things I was already doing well,” Veronica says, “Surprisingly, I found critiquing others’ writing during the course equally as beneficial. By looking critically at others’ writing, I began to identify what I thought worked, and likewise, what didn't.”
Veronica also complements her creative practice with our So you want to be a writer podcast group and Facebook community.
“I find the online community wonderfully supportive and love having a safe and friendly environment to ask my questions to like-minded people.”
Congratulations, Veronica. We look forward to hearing about your many more successes.
Courses completed with AWC: