Mosman resident Gabriella Marie Kelly-Davies has been writing stories ever since she mastered the alphabet – now that passion has seen her win two writing prizes and a trip to Oxford University to hone her skills. Plus, she’s dedicated to helping locals bring to life their own stories.
The art of biographical story telling is a very particular writing genre – it’s not fiction, but it requires the weaving of someone’s life story into a form that is palatable and interesting to readers. Gabriella Marie Kelly-Davies is fast becoming a master of this art.
“In high school I founded and ran the school magazine and at uni I wrote articles for the student newspapers. From an early age my dad took me to the local library every week to borrow biographies of musicians, writers, artists and political leaders. I love getting to know fascinating and inspiring people through their life stories – what it’s like to be them living their life; their motivations, experiences, relationships, passions, struggles and attitudes; and the lessons they have learnt through overcoming life’s many challenges,” says Kelly-Davies.
Gabriella has turned this passion into a career, founding Share Your Life Story – a writing service business that helps people tell their life stories and turn them into a book. She interviews clients, writes their stories, and assists in publishing them in a beautiful hard bound book. Says Gabriella, “I dreamt of launching Share your life story for many years while working in a busy senior communications role in the city. At night and on weekends I wrote memoirs and biographies for fun, but I was determined to turn my hobby into a profession. I have written 25 memoirs, life stories and biographies for my clients, helping them to share their memories and stories with their families, friends and future generations. I also run two free memoir writing groups in Mosman and am inspired by the stories the members write about their lives.”
In addition, Gabriella continues to write professional biographies. Her current work is a biography of Professor Michael J. Cousins AO, one of Australia’s leading pain medicine researchers and advocates. Living Well With Pain shares the story of the ‘godfather’ of pain medicine in Australia and a leading architect of contemporary pain medicine internationally. It asks why Michael Cousins devoted his life to advancing pain management despite the roadblocks, crushing disappointments and personal sacrifices.
This work has led to several accolades. In late 2019 Gabriella was awarded a scholarship from the Faber Academy to study Writing True Stories under Australia’s top life story writing teacher, Patti Miller. Then in February this year she followed this up by being long listed for the Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize. Up next is a trip to Oxford.
“I’ve been invited by the Centre for Life Writing at Oxford University to spend a term there to fine-tune and finish the book. As a visiting scholar I’ll have the opportunity to share my manuscript with several renowned biographers and receive their advice and feedback. Once I return from Oxford I’ll hunt for an agent and publisher as I’m keen for the biography to be broadly accessible to the general public. My overriding goals are for it to inspire future generations of health professionals to specialise in pain management, and to inform people living with pain about pain management approaches that don’t involve addictive drugs such as opioids.”