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Humanities showcase – celebrating a string of successes

He Who Fights Monsters

In the middle of penning a dry academic paper, Shirtaloon had a revelation: he desperately needed to write something very silly.

So begins the web novels of Travis Deverell, AKA Shirtaloon.

The UTAS English graduate (BA ’17) is topping Amazon charts and making $200,000 a month from his novel series, He Who Fights with Monsters.

The sudden success came as a surprise to Travis, who had returned to university in his mid-thirties to study creative writing under award-winning Tasmanian author Dr Danielle Wood.

Travis was unemployed when he started posting chapters on Royal Road, a free online platform for serialised story content.What happened next changed the course of his life.

A glowing review made it onto the site’s front page, attracting thousands of new readers. Travis then put his work on the Patreon crowdsourcing platform where he began generating revenue. The next step was releasing on Amazon, where his novels routinely reach rank two or three on the Kindle and Audible stores.

“I’d always wanted to write and decided to do it properly by getting my university degree (combining media studies with creative writing),” he said.

“My writing improved a lot during the university course, learning about narrative and straight-up creative writing.

“I started releasing and it went startlingly well; it just happened out of nowhere and has been growing amazingly over the last three years.”

Travis describes his genre as litRPG (literary role-playing game), which combines fantasy with science fiction and includes elements used in video games.

Other recent successes for UTAS Humanities graduates include writer Zowie Douglas-Kinghorn (DipMus ’17, BA ’18), who recently completed her Honours in English and has been appointed editor of Voiceworks magazine.

“I feel really so lucky to have a permanent position doing something I love, working with young people to produce really amazing new experimental writing,” she said.

“Especially because it has been so hard for arts organisations during the pandemic. I’m excited about and grateful for the opportunity.”

Zowie says she is keen to decentralise publishing opportunities so young people from regional areas can also access opportunities presented by Voiceworks and Express Media.

“And I’m keen to bring a Tassie perspective to the role,” she said. Recent UTAS Honours graduate Elijah Kelly (BAHons ’22) is also on the editorial board for Voiceworks.

Alongside her writing, Zowie has been active in the climate movement and received the 2020 Tasmanian Young Achiever Award. In 2018, she won the Scribe Nonfiction Prize for ‘The Invisible Sea’ about the effects of global warming and the coal seam gas industry on the Great Artesian Basin. She is one of three recipients of the inaugural Deb Foskey Scholarship through Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia.

History graduate Paige Gleeson (BAHons ’15), who recently submitted her PhD thesis, has started work as a collections officer with Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

“History isn’t just dry facts and dates, it’s an incredibly creative field,” Paige said.

“Every generation of historians reinterprets the past to challenge and expand established historical narratives, and we always do so in response to our own historical moment, inspired by the things happening around us.

“Museums are contested ground and are at the centre of a lot of debates right now about how history is told and by whom. In response, museums are changing, and they are an exciting place to be. It’s fantastic to be able to go to work every day and contribute to the preservation of our cultural heritage and see how museums may evolve into the future.”

Paige received the Australian Historical Association Copyright Agency Travel and Writing Bursary in 2020, a National Library of Australia Carol Mills Summer Scholarship in 2019, and the Van Diemen History Prize 2018–19.

For more information about studying Humanities at the University of Tasmania, see here.

Image: Zowie Douglas-Kinghorn

Image: book cover, He Who Fights With Monsters

This article featured in the monthly eNews Alumni and Friends. If you are a member of the University of Tasmania community and would like to receive this publication, please provide or update your email address.

Published on: 08 Jun 2022 12:14pm