Getting to know 2024 DHA shortlistee, Angella Whitton

Angella Whitton DHA2024 Interview Samantha Hearn The Dorothy Hewett Award

The Protector of Fledglings by Angella Whitton is a quirky and mysterious novel that is shortlisted for the 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award. In this mini-interview, Whitton shares what it feels like to be shortlisted and how she chose her unpublished manuscript for submission.  


Angella Whitton's headshot

Angella Whitton lives and writes in Western Sydney on Darug land. Her writing has been selected for the Varuna Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship 2024, the Exeter Novel Prize Longlist 2023, the Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award Shortlist 2020, the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing Shortlist 2020, the Victoria University/Overland Short Story Prize Shortlist 2019, and the Varuna Publisher Introduction Program Fellowship 2019. Her short stories have been published in Westerly, the Australian Women’s Weekly and Visible Ink. She graduated with a Master of Arts (Research) in writing from the University of Sydney. She likes tea, art, rivers, books and plants.


When Frances returns from her ill-fated honeymoon, she sees a young man in Hyde Park and becomes convinced he is her brother though her brother’s been dead for twenty years. He gets away before they can speak. She obsessively searches the park and begins to unravel. She seeks help from Dr Fleming who urges her to revisit her childhood. This leads her to the door of Mr Miller, the man who drove his car into her brother. The Protector of Fledglings is about healing the past and finding connection where it is least expected. The 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award judges describe The Protector of Fledglings as "[r]eminiscent of a number of recent Japanese novels, the world of Frances is both haunted and humorous. A tender story of mystery and self-discovery."

UWA Publishing intern, Samantha Hearn, interviewed Angella about her shortlisting: 

Samantha: How do you feel about being shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Award? 

Angella: I was ecstatic that the judges read my manuscript and had a positive response to the story. The writing life can be such a rollercoaster of joy and solitude and creativity and rejection. I was home alone so I did a celebratory lap around my loungeroom. 


S: What made you consider the Dorothy Hewett Award? 

A: My novel is pretty quirky and it is written in vignettes. I thought it could be a good fit for UWAP since they have shown the courage to support other books that are unconventional. I love that they also champion poetry. 


S: When did you know that The Protector of Fledglings would be the manuscript submitted to the Dorothy Hewett Award? Was it something written for the award, or a prior work? 

A: I began The Protector of Fledglings years ago. It has spent a long time in the bottom drawer. Early last year, I had a new idea for the shape of the novel. I spent a few months re-writing it and sent the first 10,000 words to Varuna. It was awarded the Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship which encouraged me to keep going. When I got that news, I started another revision and made the closing date of the Dorothy Hewett Award my deadline. 


The Protector Fledglings is an unpublished novel manuscript shortlisted for the 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award. The winner will be announced in June. To see more of Angella’s work please visit her website. Find out more about the 2024 Dorothy Hewett Award shortlist including the official media release.

Samantha Hearn is a Curtin University student who is in her final semester of postgraduate studies, completing an MA of Arts, majoring in Professional Writing and Publishing. She has a love for reading, writing and literature (specifically in the fiction genres) and has a passion to work within the publishing industry.  

Samantha Hearn | LinkedIn  


Check out our interviews with the other 5 shortlisted writers:


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