December 2019 meeting: best-selling author Mark Brandi

On 5 December, 28 guests (including members and non-members) attended our 2019 end-of-year dinner meeting to hear acclaimed Victorian author Mark Brandi, of best-selling novel, Wimmera, fame, talk about his experience of the editorial process. The event was held at the Grand Chancellor Hotel in Melbourne. Mark was born in Italy and grew up in regional Victoria.

A very engaging and interactive speaker, Mark spoke about his background from graduating in criminal justice) to an extensive career in the judicial system in the public sector (in fact, his brothers also had careers in the judicial system). This gave him ideas for characters and book plots and a few years down the track he was giving up a promising career to take the road less travelled and branch out into writing.

He reflected that it wasn't an easy road, with (crushing) rejections from editors and publishers and requests for iterations to manuscripts – not all of which proved to be constructive. There was also a lot of reworking of manuscripts before he realised which suggestions helped to improve his work and which were not so helpful. He spent many months redrafting Wimmera at the request of a publisher, only for it to be rejected. He then returned to his original idea.

He recalled how he would quickly scan their responses looking for words like "but" and "therefore" and "however" to get an idea if his manuscript was accepted, before he read the letters in detail for the good or bad news. Wimmera first achieved major recognition in the UK, winning the 2018 Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger award for an unpublished manuscript. The book was soon published in Australia by Hachette Australia, who had earlier shown an interest in his manuscript, and in 2018 it received the Indie Book Award for Best Debut Fiction.

A lesson to take away: don't give up on realising your dream; look out for the lessons to be learned from what publishers and editors say about your manuscript and keep trying, as others may like what they see as a good story and may be willing to give you a try. "Be alert to editors and publishers who appreciate your work and may be willing to make an investment in your manuscript," Mark said.

Buoyed by his acceptance in the literary world, Mark published his second book The Rip in 2018 to critical public acclaim. 

The entertaining talk and Q&A session were followed by a book signing segment with photo opportunities, which was very popular.

It was a fitting evening to the last dinner meeting for the year, with centrally located Grand Chancellor hotel, a very welcoming new venue at which to enjoy the festivities, a buffet meal, networking opportunities, a Secret Santa game and a chance to donate a book to The Smith Family at the conclusion of the game.

MC for the evening was Marie Pietersz and the Vote of Thanks was provided by Vice President Susan Pierotti.

A good evening was had by all.

Mark Brandi 1 Mark Brandi networking
 Mark Brandi   Networking on arrival ...
Mark Brandi table network 1 Mark Brandi table network 2
 Networking at tables ...  ... and more networking
Mark Brandi guests at tables Mark Brandi Kym Sally and Marie
 Getting ready with books for the game  Getting to know one another
Mark Brandi Bridget Susan P and Sally McI Mark Brandi Susan Pierotti
 In the Christmas spirit ...  Vote of Thanks
 Mark Brandi buffet  Mark Brandi Secret Santa game
 Sampling the buffet  Playing the Secret Santa game
 Mark Brandi book sale Donna and Renee  Mark Brandi book choosing
Getting ready for book signing   Choosing books to purchase
 Mark Brandi Marie  Mark Brandi The Rip
 Happy with the signed copy Mark's second book made sales

Photos: Donna Quinn and Marie Pietersz