Young adult novelist Holden Sheppard was one of four Fremantle Press authors to be acknowledged in the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards ceremony at the State Library of Western Australia on Friday 7 August 2020. Holden took home the The Premier's Prize for an Emerging Writer worth $15,000 for his debut novel, Invisible Boys.
When thanking the judges, the Library and the State Government for investing in WA voices, Holden said, ‘I don’t want to speak on behalf of all artists or writers but I just want to say we love money and if it’s going around we’d love more of it … Thank you to everyone who supports local writers, local booksellers and funding prizes like this. It’s not just the authors, the winners or the shortlistees who are the beneficiaries of this generosity, it’s actually 2.6 million Western Australians who get to see themselves represented in literature.’
Meanwhile, Amanda Curtin (Kathleen O’Connor of Paris) won The Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship worth $60,000, Meg McKinlay (Bella and the Wandering House, Drawn Onward) won the children’s category for her novel Catch a Falling Star and Kim Scott (Benang, True Country, Kayang & Me) was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Amanda Curtin said 2020 was a difficult year for everyone and at such times community was more precious than ever. She said she was very proud to be a part of the West Australian writing community. ‘Many things unite all of us in that community and I think above all is the belief, the knowledge, that stories matter. They can enlighten us, they can inspire us, they can challenge us and they can sometimes shame us; they can make us laugh, and wonder and sometimes make us weep, they sometimes comfort us but sometimes, as they should, they disturb or dismantle the comfortable narratives that we’ve inherited of how the world was, and how it is and should be … Stories matter and we didn’t need a pandemic to tell us that but a pandemic has really shown us how true it is.’
The Western Australian Premier's Book Awards support, develop and recognise excellence in Western Australian writing. These awards are made available by the Western Australian Government and are managed by the State Library of Western Australia.
A further six authors and three books published by Fremantle Press gained a place on the shortlists. Fremantle Press book Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories by Helen Milroy made the shortlist for the Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer, while Violet and Nothing by Fiona Burrows and Alex and the Alpacas Save the World by Kathryn Lefroy were shortlisted for the Premier’s Prize for Writing for Children. Caitlin Maling (Fish Song) and Rafeif Ismail (Meet Me at the Intersection and Unlimited Futures) were both in the running for The Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship while Ellen van Neerven was up for the Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and Young Adult Fiction.
For more information, go to the State Library of Western Australia website.
PS: Keen-eyed readers may also notice that the new logo is from an original illustration, Constellation, from the enchanting children’s book My Superhero, illustrated by Moira Court, written by Chris Owen and now available as a board book for littlies.