Originally an actress, novelist Donna M Cameron is an AWGIE nominated radio dramatist, award winning playwright and celebrated short film writer.
Her first novel, ‘Beneath the Mother Tree’, (2018) was listed as a top Australian fiction read by South Australia’s Weekend Magazine, was a finalist in the Screen Queensland/QWC’s Adaptable program and longlisted for the Davitt Awards.
She was a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize with her short story Swimming Towards the Sun which was published in the 2020 Forty South Anthology.
The manuscript of her second novel – The Rewilding, has won her a 2020 KSP Fellowship, was runner up in a 2020 Writing NSW Fellowship Award and gained her a 2021 Varuna Fellowship. It will be published by Transit Lounge in March 2024.
Donna M Cameron is the author of several produced stage plays, including the award-winning ‘Blame it on the Moon’, ‘The Salt Maiden’ and her critically acclaimed solo work, ‘The Flowering.’ A selection of her scripts and production rights are sold through the Australian Script Centre.
In 2011, Donna was nominated for an AWGIE for her ABC radio play ‘Water Tight.’ Previous to this, three other plays were produced and broadcast by ABC Radio National: ‘The Salt Maiden’, ‘Shopping for Life Forms’ and ‘Bringing Down the Moon’.
Her film script of ‘The Salt Maiden’ (a Beverley Callow production) premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, won best screenplay and short film at the Port Stephens Film Festival, and overall winner of the Avoca Cinema Coasties Film Festival 2015.
She is a recipient of the Australian Writers Guild/ Queensland Theatre Company Mentorship Award and twice recipient of the Fresh Ground Scheme at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.
A graduate of the NIDA playwright’s studio, she holds a BA in theatre (University of Southern Queensland) and a Research Masters – writing contemporary plays from ancient myth (Queensland University of Technology).
For many years, Donna has worked with young people to self-devise theatrical works and she has been commissioned numerous times for community theatre projects involving young people.
A few years back, a story came to her in the form of a novel. She commenced work on it under a Regional Arts Development Fund grant, which allowed her to work with structural editor Nicola O’Shea.
In 2015 she was selected for a Varuna Litlink residency to further develop what became ‘Beneath the Mother Tree’. The writing of this novel was such a joyous ride, Donna hopes to write novels now for the rest of her days.
‘Beneath the Mother Tree’ was published by MidnightSun in August 2018. It was listed as a top Australian fiction read for 2018 by the Adelaide Advertiser, longlisted for the 2019 Davitt Awards and a recipient of the Screen Queensland/Queensland Writer’s Centre Adaptable program.
In 2020 Donna’s short story ‘Swimming Towards the Sun’ was a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize and was published in the 2020 Forty South Short Story Anthology. She also became a KSP Fellowship recipient and was runner up in the Writing NSW Varuna Fellowship Awards for the manuscript of her second novel. This manuscript granted Donna a 2021 Varuna Fellowship at the National Writer’s House and will be published by Transit Lounge in early 2024.
I have been told readers like insights into author’s lives, so let me share with you here – I live in an original 1940s seaside cottage beside a national park with my little family in what I think is one of the most beautiful parts of the world – the east coast of Australia, just north of Sydney.
I love gardening and bushwalking and eating pavlova.
My favourite book as a child was ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who I recently discovered was also a playwright.
When I was seven, I dreamt about being a writer and had a fantasy to build a library attached to my parent’s house in suburban Brisbane. My best friend Jane, who lived next door, loved to draw. We concocted a plan that I would write the story and she would illustrate. We were going to fill the ‘library’ with our books. The first book we created was called ‘The Little Girl and the Ghost.’ However, at seven I was an atrocious speller so it was actually titled – ‘The Litle Gril and the Gohst.’
We were so proud, we ran and showed Jane’s mother, who proceeded to read the book aloud phonetically. We all laughed at the adventures of the ‘gril’ and the ‘gohst’, but I will never forget my heartbreak in that moment. I thought – ‘I can’t be a writer. Everyone will laugh at my spelling.’
I never shared this thought with anyone so no one reassured me otherwise, and as it turned out, I went on to become an actor.
It was only when I started writing seriously, in my late twenties, that this memory came flooding back. It made me realise that life works in the most wondrous ways, as my acting has and still does inform and enhance my writing. The only difference being – my laptop is now my audience and my costume is often my pyjamas.
I hope you enjoy my work as much as I enjoy creating it.
Have fun exploring the site!