My name is Shannon Meyerkort, and I am a Perth-based writer. I love to tell stories.
This is the short story:
I am a multi-genre writer – my first book Brilliant Minds: 30 Dyslexic Heroes who Changed our World is a collection of short biographies for children about awesome and inspiring people with dyslexia, and was released by Affirm Press in late 2022 – but I have also written novels for adults (both contemporary and historical fiction), short stories, memoir pieces and chapter books for kids. I am a bookseller and a journalist for School News magazine.
I usually work on at least three projects at any one time and that’s not including the ones that are simmering away in the back of my head.
Learn more about my writing and publications.
This is the longer version:
Although I have always loved writing, I haven’t always been a writer. I originally started out as an anthropologist (that’s the study of human culture, not bugs) and undertook a Master of Public Health, before working as a researcher in various hospitals and universities across Australia.
It was after my second daughter was born and we knew we were planning a third, that I realised a career change would be required. After three long months of sessions with a career counsellor, she came up with two options: event planner and writer. Although I love planning a good party, the choice was always clear: I had wanted to be a writer since I was a child.
Before leaving, she gave me one piece of advice that I have never forgotten: she told me:
“Shannon, remember that as a writer, your life will be like a jigsaw puzzle, with lots of pieces that all fit together to form the picture of your career. Some pieces will pay well, others you will just write for the love of it, some pieces will satisfy you creatively, others will just be ‘work’, one piece may be a long novel, and others will represent smaller pieces of work. Over time the puzzle will grow, and a picture will form, but you will always have many different elements to your writing life.”
I have written a lot since then.
I founded one of Australia’s most comprehensive fundraising ideas websites, Fundraising Mums (which I later sold in 2020 to The Fundraising Directory). I reviewed restaurants. I worked as an editor and set up a number of websites including Free Perth and Perth Mums Group. I have freelanced for various companies and seen my work published in newspapers, magazines, books and on websites across the globe. I have a hundred different ideas pinned to a corkboard above my desk and floating around in my brain.
More recently I have been writing short stories in decodable text for my dyslexic daughter as well as working on a special book-length project called Brilliant Minds which was acquired by Affirm Press and published in 2022.
I didn’t start writing novels until 2017, but now it’s all I want to do. My primary genre is historical fiction, and so far, my three books have all been set in Perth, Western Australia.
The Teacher is set in the months before World War One, at a time when railways were king, electricity was new, and social interaction was still governed by Edwardian sensibilities.
Inspired by the true story of the original owner of my 1940s house, it follows a young woman studying to be a teacher at Claremont Training College. The story takes place in a number of locations from Perth to Gallipoli, and while the main plot is a fictionalised version of her life, it uses inspiration from many real-life events and locations.
In 2019 I completed the first draft of Behind Closed Doors an unconventional love story set during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. This has also been inspired by a true story, but I have relocated it in time and place. This manuscript won me a place at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre First Edition Retreat in late 2019, for emerging writers with a new manuscript. This included a place on the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program. This book still isn’t quite what I want it to be and plan to do a rewrite of Behind Closed Doors in the future.
While at the KSP Writers’ Centre, I had the idea for another novel, with six inter-connecting stories. When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, I realised that it made the perfect backdrop for the novel and by mid-2020 I had completed a draft of my first contemporary novel. It covers the stories of six people who are all letting go of something important to them, and looks at the themes of family and motherhood, fear and uncertainty. It also explores how our lives are interconnected and how the actions of one person can have unintended consequences on others. I was fortunate to work with Fogarty Award-winning writer Brooke Dunnell as my mentor which has helped make the book so much stronger. I named it 100 Days of March, and while I acknowledge it is probably too soon for a novel set during the pandemic, I can be patient, as I believe it has captured the unique setting just as well as The Teacher depicts pre-war Perth and Behind Closed Doors captures the 60s and 70s.
I worked with Brooke again on my book The Carrington Effect, which was longlisted for the 2022 Hungerford Award. Set in the early days of the Swan River Colony, this book combines real events that plagued the remote community, with my imagined stories of three women and the mystery of a baby found under the Perth bridge in 1859.
I have also been lucky enough to win a few writing prizes, such as first place in the 2010 West Australian Newspaper Summer Agenda writing competition which comes with its own humiliating story, and first place in the 2015 City of Subiaco Local History Awards. More recently I have been proud to see my stories published in Underground Writers, the Connection anthology and a microfiction piece in the Short Edition short story dispenser located in the Perth CBD (I can cross that one off my bucket list!).
I was a finalist (Top 10) for the inaugural Best Australian Yarn short story competition in 2022, with my story Kevin and Dave chosen as one of the Top 50 stories from over 4,700 entries.
In all of my writing, I call on my experiences as both a researcher, historian and mother, and my study of people and history.
So that is me. Welcome to my site – have a look around. I hope you enjoy my words, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Shannon Meyerkort February 2023