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2018 GMW Emerging Writers Competition Winners

Writers Victoria is thrilled to announce the finalists of the 2018 Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Competitions.


The Fiction category was judged by writer and editor Thuy On. Thuy was impressed by the high quality of the submissions, reporting that they “offer eclectic experiences and wide-ranging bursts of emotion from the city to the country, within Australia and beyond our coastlines, and explore the parameters of the domestic kitchen sink and broader socio-political territories. They take on the difficult messiness of both sides of the life spectrum; of birth and death and everything in between. Too often short fiction is written to be earnest and doughy so there is a seam of welcomed (dark) humour in many of these stories.”

“It was a very difficult decision to choose from such an excellent shortlist and I wish more garlands were possible. The winning tales, though different in tone and style, are all exemplars of storytelling. Each one of the five presents slivers of truth and compassion through which readers are invited to share.”

The winner of the Fiction category was Amanda Hildebrandt with the entry ‘Market Day’. This story “canvasses the trickiness and permutations of love in a beautifully imagined way.” Amanda was awarded $1000.

‘Binky’ by Margaret Hickey was awarded runner up. This story “is about the pull of the land, the epiphany received from rolling around in the soil.” Margaret was awarded $250.

Both writers “are to be commended for their use of imagery and dialogue respectively.”

High commendations were also awarded to Damian Perry for ‘Death Watch‘, Liselle Bhatia for ‘Food for Prayer‘ and Phillippa Finkemeyer for ‘Made of Ivory‘. These writers were awarded a one-year membership to Writers Victoria


The Non-fiction category was judged by writer Bram Presser, who noted that he was “greatly impressed by the captivating and varied array of stories, slices of life that ranged from the deeply personal to the wryly observational.”

The winner of the Non-Fiction category was Karen McKnight with the entry ‘The Playboy Club of North Perth’. Bram “was particularly taken by the raw energy, sense of humour and sharp writing … We can all relate to the expat’s sense of dislocation but Karen McKnight brought a joyous, unexpected experiential dimension to her story, as well as a little sting in the tail that had me grinning with delight. A very deserving winner.” Karen was awarded $1000.

‘Myanmar and My Father’ by Claire Harris was awarded runner up. A “deeply moving meditation on love, history, family and legacy wrapped up in a gripping travelogue. Written with beautiful simplicity, I found myself wholly invested in Claire Harris’s quest to find her father’s friend as a way to honour his memory.” Claire was awarded $250.

All three of the highly commended stories touched on the the themes of loss and longing in a sophisticated manner that gave them considerable emotional punch.Katia Ariel’s experiments with form in ‘Black Pearl’ almost amounted to literary decoupage in constructing a touching portrait of her artist mother. ‘Hessian’, by Marg Hooper, was achingly beautiful in its use of water as metaphor in the exploration of what it means to lose a child. And, reflecting on her childhood love of a horse in ‘Fierce and Feisty Love’, Fiona White deftly straddled the dividing line between depth and sentimentality without tipping too far over into the latter.They were all awarded with a one-year membership to Writers Victoria.

Best Regional Writer

This year, a $500 prize was also be awarded to Margaret Hickey for ‘Binky‘ as the highest placed Writers Victoria member from regional Victoria in either category (Fiction & Non-Fiction). Margaret resides in Glenrowan.

‘Market Day’, ‘ Binky’, ‘The Playboy Club of North Perth’ and ‘Myanmar and My Father’ will be published in the Oct/Nov issue of The Victorian Writer magazine.

Since 2008, the Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Competition has aimed to support and profile emerging Victorian writers. The annual prize is open to writers with no more than three stories or articles published in a recognised book, magazine or journal.

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