Five minutes with Heather Rose

Emma Castle
19th Apr 2017

Five minutes with Heather Rose, winner of the 2017 Stella Prize is Heather Rose for her novel The Museum of Modern Love.

Here are some numbers for a major literary prize win: 11 years to write the novel, 17 years is how old Rose was when she started writing, five is how many other novels she has written, and 50,000 is how many dollars she won at the Stella prize ceremony on Tuesday April 18th, 2017.

The Museum of Modern Love counts an otherworldly muse among its cast of characters. Rose recalls that, as she was making the final round of edits to her manuscript, she felt that same muse leaning in the corner of the room, shaking its head and saying, ‘Boy oh boy, that took you a long time’.

Rose’s career began with writing about sailing and windsurfing for the Hobart Mercury. Since then, she has worked on magazines and newspapers, as well as five other novels.

The idea for The Museum of Modern Love struck Rose when she was looking at a photograph of Marina Abramovic’s performance of ‘The Artist is Present’ at the National Gallery of Victoria. Rose says, “It [the idea] grabbed me with a fish hook”.

In Rose’s words, the book focuses on themes of ‘art and marriage’. “It’s a novel about endurance which is funny because it took so long to write,” she says.

After numerous drastic rewrites and several rejections from both Australian and UK publishers, Rose says that winning the Stella prize is “a moment of such exquisite encouragement”.

Rose says that last year she was interviewing Charlotte Wood, the 2016 winner and author of The Natural Way of Things, for the Hobart Mercury. This year, Wood was sitting in the audience applauding her.

“Publishing is a hard industry to be in. This alone is priceless to me because it will bring new readers to my work,” says Rose.

Her advice to would-be novelists? “Don’t give up. Keep pursuing your dreams. Work every day – it is the only way to become a better writer”.

For more information, follow Heather Rose on Facebook.