Tag Archives: WA Premier’s Book Awards

WA Premier’s Book Awards winners

Congratulations to the winners of the WA Premier’s Book Awards:

  • Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer: Elfie Shiosaki, Homecoming (Magabala Press)
  • Premier’s Prize for Writing for Children: Shirley Marr, A Glasshouse of Stars (Penguin Random House)
  • Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior/YA Fiction: Mariah Sweetman, Robert Runs
  • WA Writer’s Fellowship: Nandi Chinna
L to R: Shirley Marr, Nandi Chinna, Elfie Shiosaki, Mariah Sweetman

And to all of the wonderful writers who were shortlisted: congratulations on your achievements, too. You probably made the judges’ task of deciding winners very difficult.

I generally don’t like having my photo taken, but here is one from the awards night that is possibly my favourite ever: buying books, not facing the camera…

Photo credits: Sally Kelso, State Library of WA

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WA Premier’s Book Awards winners…

The WA Premier’s Book Awards for 2020 releases were announced last night at a lovely ceremony at the State Library of Western Australia.

WA Premier’s Award for an Emerging Writer: Rebecca Giggs, Fathoms: The World in the Whale (Scribe Publications)

WA Premier’s Award for Writing for Children: Meg McKinlay and Matt Ottley, How to Make a Bird (Walker Books)

Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and YA fiction: Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler, Dirran

WA Writer’s Fellowship: Sisonke Msimang

Congratulations to the winners, and also to the wonderful shortlisted authors (a full list of those shortlisted is on the State Library’s website).

Before the announcement, A.J. Betts and I, as previous Fellowship winners, took part in a discussion about the impact of the Fellowship with Jo Trilling (ABC Perth). The event was streamed live on the State Library’s YouTube channel.

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Well, scrape me down from the sky…

It’s been nearly three days. You’d think I would have managed to post the news before now. But it took me by surprise, and it’s taken a while to come down to earth.


Last Friday, at the announcement of the WA Premier’s Book Awards,* I was awarded this year’s Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship. My fellow shortlistees were Lucy Dougan, Caitlin Maling, Rafeif Ismail and Carl Merrison, and it was a privilege to be in the company of these wonderful writers.

Congratulations to all the WA Premier’s Book Awards winners and shortlisted authors:


Unlike an award given for a published book, a fellowship is not a prize; it’s a contract. It comes with expectations and responsibilities, and I’m so excited about the work ahead. The fellowship will enable me to make substantial progress on the new novel I’m working on, set in Perth and Coolgardie during the 1890s—a story of emigration and racism and extraordinary social change.

My thanks to the WA Government, the State Library of WA and the judging panel for this unparalleled opportunity.

*The event was live-streamed on YouTube (the feed begins at around 6 minutes).

A few photos, courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia…



Susan Midalia, Jo Taylor, Amanda Curtin, Francine Nababan, Jan Nicholls

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020



Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Holden Sheppard

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Meg McKinlay

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Kim Scott

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020



Filed under Events, Writing

A podcast and some good news…

I was delighted when Will Yeoman, from The West Australian, invited me to talk about Scotland in this episode of ‘The Pod Well Travelled. It was hard to choose one place among the many in Scotland I love, but in the end it had to be Shetland, where part 2 of Elemental is set. You can also listen to discussions about Finland and Arles in this episode.


And for the good news…

In a year that has been, and continues to be, so difficult and unnerving, it is a singular pleasure to be shortlisted for the WA Writer’s Fellowship, part of the WA Premier’s Book Awards.


The full shortlists are here. Congratulations and good luck to everyone!

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WA Premier’s shortlists…

Earlier this month, the Western Australian Minister for Culture and the Arts announced the shortlists for the 2019 WA Premier’s Book Awards, and I couldn’t have been more delighted, or surprised, to find myself shortlisted for the inaugural Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship.


It’s an honour to be in the company of this stellar group of writers. Thanks to the judges for making my year!

Shortlists for the three other awards being presented are as follows:

Emerging Writer

  • Alicia Tuckerman, If I Tell You (novel, YA; Pantera Press)
  • Dervla McTiernan, The Rúin (novel; HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Renée Pettitt-Schipp, The Sky Runs Right Through Us (poetry; UWA Publishing)
  • Gus Henderson, The Wounded Sinner (novel; Magabala Books)
  • Laurie Steed, You Belong Here (novel; Margaret River Press)

Writing for Children

  • Sally Morgan, illust. Craig Smith, Grandpa, Me and Poetry (Scholastic Australia)
  • Mark Greenwood, illust. Andrew McLean, The Happiness Box (Walker Books Australia)
  • Kelly Canby, The Hole Story (Fremantle Press)
  • Barry Marshall & Lorna Hendry, illust. Bernard Caleo), How to Win a Nobel Prize (Piccolo Nero, Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd)
  • Kirsty Murray, illust. Karen Blair, Puddle Hunters (Allen & Unwin)

Daisy Utemorrah  Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and YA Writing

  • Paul Callaghan, ‘Coincidence’
  • Kirli Saunders, ‘Mother Speaks’
  • Karl Merrison & Hakea Hustler, ‘Tracks of the Missing’

Congratulations and good luck to all!


Filed under Writing

One celebration and two king hits

During the last two weeks, there have been highs and lows for readers and writers in Western Australia and beyond. We delighted in the offerings of the Perth Writers Festival, reported by many (including The West Australian) as one of the most successful in recent years. But we have been dismayed by two major blows—one by the government sector and one by the corporate.

The Western Australian State Government announced that the WA Premier’s Book Awards, open to books published nationally in the previous year, will now be held biennially instead of annually, with the next awards to be announced in  2016 for books published in 2014 and 2015. As a shortlisted author in 2014 for my novel Elemental (Fiction and People’s Choice categories), I can attest to the enormous value of such recognition, not only in publicity and sales but in validation and encouragement. Stretching the awards over a period of two years will dilute the impact of a shortlisting, especially for those titles published in a ‘between’ year, as timeliness is an issue in an industry where books often have a scandalously short shelf life.

Much has been said, and rightly so, about the effective halving of the financial recognition of writers through making the awards biennial—presumably for budgetary reasons (a saving of $65,000), although the Premier has declined to comment on this. But equally alarming is the halving of the number of books—across many genres—that will be recognised and promoted through shortlistings, let alone awards, over that time. And overarching all these considerations is the negative message that the decision sends about the value of the literary arts to the vibrancy of life in our community.

Here are a few of the many comments from those in the industry who have spoken up in the print media recently:

While this will hurt writers, publishers, booksellers and readers, the saving is a pittance in the scheme of things.—Kim Scott, writer, The Australian

WA is still an affluent state. Reducing these awards by half is cruel to the writers who spend years completing books that should last for decades.—Terri-ann White, publisher, The Australian

The financial cost to the state of running the awards is minimal, more so in the context of their importance to local writers, booksellers, librarians and readers. Frankly, this is embarrassing.—David Whish-Wilson, writer, The Australian

It’s a tremendously disappointing decision. I would have thought the magnificent effect of The Giants on the community was enough to convince any government that spending money on the arts isn’t wasted. In this so-called backwards Wild West, we are among the greatest readers and love to buy books.—Diana Warnock, arts patron, The West Australian

It was a surprise decision and we have a lot of concerns.—Sharon Flindell, CEO, writingWA, The West Australian

[The decision] has major ramifications across the industry and reflects very poorly on the government’s support for the writing sector.—Delys Bird, UWA academic, 2014 awards judge, Western Suburbs Weekly

These awards have long drawn a spotlight on WA’s talent and have inspired new and established writers.—Jane Fraser, publisher, Western Suburbs Weekly

The impact of a prize-winning book and the profile it brings is much greater than a football match, I would say.—Michael Campbell, 2014 awards judge, Sydney Morning Herald

This kind of recognition is so important to an individual writer’s career.—Amanda Curtin, The West Australian

Perth writer and bookseller Emily Paull has initiated a petition calling on Premier Colin Barnett to stop cuts to the awards. If you feel strongly about the issue, please consider signing.

The second recent blow to writers and readers—this one from the corporate sector—has slipped by almost unnoticed; however, its potential effect is just as damaging to writers, publishers, booksellers and readers. A paragraph in the current writingWA e-newsletter states:

writingWA was dismayed to learn earlier this week that a decision has been taken to reduce the space available for books coverage in Tuesday’s edition of The West Australian by 50%. The reliable—and highly valued—double page spread will now be limited to a single page and occasional sporadic coverage on other days.

Over the past few years, the coverage of literature in the pages of The West Australian has gone from strength to strength under the enthusiastic and visionary direction of Books Editor William Yeoman. The sudden contraction of the newspaper’s commitment is devastating news. If you are concerned, please consider contacting The West Australian directly to express your views.

*Here are two more posts on the changes to the WA Premier’s Book Awards: one from Louise Allan and one from Emily Paull.



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Shortlisting of Elemental, WA Premier’s Book Awards

elemental_COVERThis week I was thrilled to learn that Elemental has been shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards in the Fiction category. My little red-haired gutting girl is proud to be in the company of these stellar titles:

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld (Random House Australia)
Coal Creek by Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin)
Eyrie by Tim Winton (Penguin Group Australia)
The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr (Fremantle Press)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Random House Australia)

You can read the full press release here.

The six shortlisted titles are also eligible for the People’s Choice Award. You can vote for your favourite here (WA residents only, and voting closes 29 August).

I was also thrilled to see that the shortlist in a new category, WA Emerging Writers, includes writer friends Dawn Barker for Fractured (you can read a recent 2, 2 and 2 guest post from Dawn here) and Yvette Walker for Letters to the End of Love (my review here).

What an exciting week it’s been!



Filed under Elemental