Writers Victoria is thrilled to announce the finalists of the 2017 Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Competitions.
In the Fiction category, of which there were over 100 entries, judges Mark Brandi and Michelle Scott Tucker were impressed by the high quality of the submissions, reporting that they saw "a diversity of form, content, and genre."
"What set the winning entries apart, above all else, was their distinctive and compelling authorial voice. Moreover, these stories showed trust in the reader, allowing us to enter what seems a familiar realm, but then offering a unique and daring perspective. Each of these stories left us seeing the world a little differently."
The winner of the Fiction category was Kieran Stevenson with the entry 'Skin'. "This story transcends the usual tropes with a mesmerising shift – this is a compelling and powerful demonstration of compressed storytelling." Kieran was awarded $1000.
'Crack' by Zoe Bradley was awarded runner up in the Fiction category. This story "impressed us with its ability to use telling details to evoke a particular and compelling atmosphere." "The reader is placed inside the story from the very first line." Zoe was awarded $250.
High commendations were also awarded to Thomas Minogue for 'Helen Earth' and Ben Oost for 'Mumtaz'. Both pieces "deal with familiar issues of identity and discrimination, but with authentic voice – a quality making both worthy of commendation." Both writers were awarded a one-year membership to Writers Victoria
The Non-fiction category was judged by Sian Prior, who noted, "it was very difficult to choose the prize-winners. There were at least a dozen excellent pieces amongst 39 entries."
"All the awarded pieces had certain elements in common: a consistent, confident and engaging voice; vivid and memorable characters; believable dialogue; and a gripping ‘story’ behind the ‘situation’ they describe."
The winner of the Non-Fiction category was Christine Hill with the entry 'How could you do this to us?'. "It's an essay written by a perinatal psychotherapist visiting asylum-seekers in a detention centre, trying to help detained parents engage their babies in play. The author describes the Kafkaesque environment in which these refugee parents spend interminable days, months and years, and the damaging long term consequences of their despair for their childrens’ development. The voice is restrained, authoritative and quietly enraged. This is a story that needs to be told and, once read, it will not easily be forgotten." Christine was awarded $1000.
'Melbourne '89' by Susan Bennett was awarded runner up in the Non-Fiction category. "It's an essay about a passionate unrequited love affair with a city. Impressionistic and poetic, the writing conveys the author’s sensual yearning for Melbourne, a town from which he/she has been ‘banished’. It up-ends the traditional ‘tree-change’ escape narrative and reminds us of the multitudinous pleasures of city living." Susan was awarded $250.
High commendations were also awarded to Linda Judge for 'The Odyssey', "This is a story about grieving and letting go, told with simplicity, subtlety and clarity."; Ann Dinh for 'Christmas Excrucinaire', "This story is told with a wry, self-knowing, yet vulnerable voice ... [and] a fresh and inventive use of language."; and Warwick Sprawson for 'The Island of Flowers', "A story told with grace and economy; a wonderful example of ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ the reader what has been observed." They were all awarded with a one-year membership to Writers Victoria.
'Skin', 'Crack', 'How could you do this to us?' and 'Melbourne '89' 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 fiction prize is open to writers with no more than three stories or articles published in a recognised book, magazine or journal.