CHERYL JORGENSEN lives in Brisbane, Queensland. Her first serious attempt at writing was a short story called “The Night Patsy Murdered Matilda”, which was a runner-up in the National WORDFEST Literary Competition in 1990. Shortly after this, she joined the Queensland branch of The Society of Women Writers of Australia and became President from July 1990 to July 1992.
Her second short story, entitled “Mysteries At Medlow Bath” was written for an AWAG literary contest. A Gothic short story, the prescribed word limit was 2,000 words. Because her story was much longer, she offered it instead to The Australian Women’s Weekly who bought it and subsequently published it. In the same year she won The National Bank Short Story Competition for “Browning and the Red Spot Special”.
“A Necessary Murder” was written in response to the break-up of a long-time partnership. This story was immediately bought and published by the literary magazine, Hecate. It has since also been published in the first anthology of Crime Writers Queensland – called Murder Under the Mangoes. Cheryl was an inaugural member of the CWQ.
Also about this time, she wrote – with what her friends considered a degree of cynicism – a short romance. This was actually composed on the night before the bailiffs were due to throw her and her adorable offspring out into the street. She was in the middle of moving house when the phone rang among the dozens of tea-chests overflowing with portable bits of family life, furniture lumped into the hall awaiting the removalists, denuded walls, wailing kids, hysterical fox terriers, a predictably cheerful though confused canary, an extremely irritated cat, and seven frightened, apparently clairvoyant, white mice.
A friend announced that Mills & Boon had been running a competition which had a very good cash prize attached to it, but which, unfortunately, closed on the morrow. Feeling she had little choice in the matter, Cheryl sat in the middle of all the chaos and wrote “The Food of Love” on a bodgy, portable Olivetti typewriter. What she sent in was the very messy first draft, so marks were probably deducted for neatness – or rather its lack. It was the runner-up to the winning entry: her prize for this, a year’s supply of Mills & Boon novels. These of course were not edible – some of them not even readable – so she later sent “The Food of Love” off to The Australian Women’s Weekly who kindly sent her a generous cheque for it, followed by another, for “Widow’s Walk”.
Once they had been ejected from the family home, Cheryl took a job in teaching in order to provide such little luxuries as food, clothing, shelter and education for the adorable children. However she still wrote in her spare time – holidays, weekends – even lunchtimes, when someone in Admin had forgotten to put her on playground duty. Turning back to crime, she wrote her first novel, The Teddybear Kill, which won the 4BC/DYMOCKS literary competition in 1995. For this she received a cash prize presented with a kiss by the very charming Lord Jeffrey Archer, who later found it useful to research prison life from the inside.
In 1996, her second novel, Tom Tiddler’s Ground, was a runner-up in The NATIONAL BOOK COUNCIL HarperCollins prize. In the following year, two of her stories were published in Murder Under the Mangoes, and another, “Race For Love”, in The Australian Women’s Weekly. In 1998, “Teresa Tempestuous” was included in the Crime and Tide anthology, and later still, recorded as part of a Talking Book. Cheryl was also commissioned by Brisbane TAFE to produce HOW TO WRITE CRIME, designed for students of fiction of this genre. In 1999, two of her stories were published in Peril Under the Pandanus and her TAFE study guide also appeared in print. Around this time, too, she was offered several Writers in Residence positions in Brisbane secondary schools which she could not accept because she had her own children to look after.
2000 saw “Unsolved Crimes”, a story which reconstructed the days leading up to and just after the Gatton murders, published in Menace Under the Mulga. “Writer’s Block”, her play for Primary School children, which had not only been performed by several schools, but recorded and played in part on Brisbane radio, was published in The School Magazine in NSW.
Her third crime novel, A Quality of Light was published by The Ninderry Press in 2002 and re-published by Blake Publications, her own small, independent publishing house in 2003, with her Young Adult novel, Morag Bane. She also edited and published an anthology of brief biographies entitled You’re a Legend! Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after a bout of Glandular Fever, had ensured that Cheryl could no longer continue teaching, so she had resigned from Education Queensland in 2002, to take up the more restful pursuit of publishing.
Between 2002 and 2005, she scripted and presented a weekly arts program for 4RPH in Brisbane. She appeared on television and radio regarding her work, spoke at business clubs and universities and conducted half a dozen writing workshops. She also judged the R. Carson Gold Short Story competition, a round of the Nestle Write Around Australia contest, and several literary prizes awarded by the SWWQ.
In 2004, she won the Children’s/Young Adult category of Fastbooks for Morag Bane. She was the sole runner-up to the Davitt Prize, presented by the national body of The Sisters in Crime, for A Quality of Light in the same year, in an illustrious field of crime writers. She also wrote The ’brook, Alfred (Crow) Fletcher’s tale of institutional abuse, and published it. This sold out quickly by word-of-mouth and reappeared in its second edition as Brutal with New Holland Publishers in 2006.
Also in 2006, Cheryl was the speech writer for the State Minister for Health, Hon Stephen Robertson. She left this exalted position to go back to university as a postgraduate student.
In 2008, her nonfiction novel, The Taint, which was also the thesis for a Master of Philosophy in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland, was published by Boolarong Press. In 2009 she graduated with this degree.
She has written three crime novels, one novel for Young Adults, two children’s novels, a text for a children’s picture book, and two nonfiction novels. She has edited seven books for other authors – five of which have been published.
Currently she is reading and researching for her thesis for a PhD in Literature, reviewing books for radio 4BC, The Courier-Mail and literary journals such as Australian Book Review, AWBR and Hecate. Warily watching home base, she also navigates the blogosphere.