Playful. Disruptive. Inclusive. These are the qualities that UQ teaching initiative Corella Press aspires to cultivate when recovering 19th century Australian crime-mystery stories.
“A sharp cry of terror rang out on the night – an inarticulate cry it was at first, but full of great fear and horror.”
This is Jeannie Lockett’s The Millwood Mystery – a tale of murder, obsession and the corrupt whisperings of small-town Australia. It is one of the compelling 19th century Australian crime and mystery stories that was recovered and republished by UQ’s teaching initiative, Corella Press.
Corella Press was co-founded by UQ Associate Professor Kim Wilkins and lecturer Meg Vann. What started as a simple text message idea between two academics is now a small press, providing both undergraduate and postgraduate students with work-integrated learning opportunities.
“As publisher, I train and coordinate the student interns to ensure we reach our goal of publishing a beautiful book by the end of semester,” Vann said.
“Over the course of 13 teaching weeks, interns are encouraged to uncover captivating stories from the past, ones that grab your attention and inject new voices and perspectives into the Australian literary canon.”
Through the use of databases, such as Trove and AustLit, interns undertake investigative work by searching through serialised fiction from early Australian periodicals. Interns then digitise their findings, “rescuing incredible stories from oblivion”.
“These databases are invaluable repositories of Australian literature,” Vann said.
While the Corella internship provides students with hands-on experience in writing, editing and publishing, Vann said Corella Press was designed to mirror the publishing workflow, from acquisitions and editorial to production and marketing.
She has developed a range of coordinator roles that allow all interns a chance to “lead, learn and shine”.
A past Corella Press intern, Katerina Tomasella, was the proofreading leader during the production of The Millwood Mystery, Corella’s second collectable instalment, and described the internship schedule as fast-paced and action-packed.
“Corella has afforded me the opportunity to be a leader and an active contributor of reviving a forgotten archive of Australian crime literature,” Tomasella said.
“The onus of leading the proofreading component of the book production schedule was significant to me because it demonstrated my confidence, capability and dependability as an intern.”
While so much Australian literature has been preserved, Wilkins said hundreds of stories would never see the light of day again.
“We are working hard to uncover diverse voices from the past, and in essence give a different perspective of Australian literary history.”
Corella Press is working on the launch of its third novel, Man or Devil: Tales from the Australian Gothic, which features a story set in Moreton Bay, where the murder weapon may or may not be a shark.
To learn more about Corella Press, visit austlit.edu.au/corellapress.
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