Anne McCullagh Rennie - How Selwa Became My Agent

After twelve years teaching Suzuki Piano and running multi-piano workshops and concerts in Sydney, culminating in my staging The Suzuki 21 Piano Salute to the Bicentenary, (that included 21 pianos, strings, woodwind, 200 kids and 20 teachers), I needed a change. Encouraged by my husband to ‘Give it a go’ and follow my dream to write bestsellers, I wrote and published Pain-free Living, a cookbook for arthritis sufferers. I then joined every writing group I could find and started writing my first novel.  One of those groups was the Society of Women Writers. They were desperate for a secretary.

I accepted the position and was excited to discovered Author Agent Selwa Anthony was shortly to be our guest speaker.  It was 1993. Selwa spoke passionately about Popular Fiction, Australians writing great yarns, books you couldn’t put down to the last word and that left you wanting more – the sort I loved to read and longed to write. ‘We have our own great authors here in Australia, as good as any other nation,’ she declared. ‘These are who we should be building up.’ Amongst others she showed us a ‘bodice ripper’ front cover. It was the original publication of a novel by Ruth Parks that at that time was being touted as a literary fiction. ‘Great story. Commercial. Popular Mass Market,’ Selwa explained firmly.

After her inspiring talk I said to her: ‘You are the woman I’ve been waiting to walk into my life.’ Without missing a beat she replied: ‘Send me what you have written.’ I did and in our next conversation she said. ‘I see you can write.  Now we start a-fresh.’ My heart leapt. I had become a proud member of Selwa’s Author Agency family and my first bestseller: Reach for the Dream, a classic Australian tale told against the harsh compelling beauty of the Outback’ was born.

That was over 25 years ago. Since that time, I have been privileged to work with this hardworking, dedicated, tenacious author agent and business woman, a quasi editor and loyal friend.  Selwa coaxed me to write tighter, plot better, re-edit my own work and market myself and my writing. Through her I got to meet many other talented authors, editors and publishers.  She helped me become an internationally bestselling author of Australian Popular Fiction, something I had only previously dreamed of. ‘Write about Australia and Australians for Australians. Overseas is the icing on the cake,’ she advised whilst beavering away in the background.  Then one day I got the icing. ‘It’s Selwa,’ said a familiar voice down the phone. ‘You’d better start writing another book, Anne. Germany want to publish all your novels… And we aren’t finished yet…’ My novels are now available as eBooks and audiobooks. Selwa continues to encourage and support me as I complete my eighth novel.

I remain forever in her debt.