18 August 2021

Q & A with our 2019 Deakin Non-Fiction Prize winner, Olivia De Zilva


Olivia De Zilva is an award-winning writer and arts critic from Adelaide, South Australia. She received First Class Honours in Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide and was awarded the Deakin University Non-Fiction Prize in 2019. We sat down with Olivia, to ask how winning the prize has shaped her career and what advice she would give to people wanting to enter.  

How has winning this prize shaped your career?

Winning the Deakin University Non-Fiction Prize has helped me become more confident in my writing career. In some instances (not always), I’ve been able to shed the skin of imposter syndrome when submitting my work and engaging publications I am a fan of. Having this award under my belt has helped me be recognised and acknowledged in the industry and opened doors to opportunities including being offered a full scholarship to a Master of Arts at The University of Queensland under an author I greatly admire. Even when applying for professional work, the award has been looked upon very highly and I’ve been offered roles due to its prestige. Overall, the prize has allowed me to get into first gear and really take things seriously when it comes to building my budding career as a writer.  

What advice would you give to people wanting to enter?

Just apply. I did and I had no expectations whatsoever. No matter the outcome, it’s a great opportunity to have your work read and good practice for being a writer… submitting, submitting, submitting. I think all people who want to be a writer need to submit their work regularly to strike gold.

What made you decide to submit to the prize, how did you feel when you found out you’d been shortlisted?

I submitted to the prize because I thought that people would find stories about my family funny and relatable. I remember being in tears when I wrote it and I thought that having a feeling like that was really rare and was something that I really needed to share with the world. I thought this prize would be the perfect opportunity to do so. When I’d been shortlisted, I was ecstatic! After what seemed like only rejections, it felt great to be acknowledged amongst a talented bunch of writers. 

We wish Olivia all the best in her endeavours and look forward to seeing more of her work in the future!