The story below came through the ETAN mailing list while I was away.
Northern Territory News
August 26, 2008
Gutsy novel wins top prize
By ALYSSA BETTS
THREE women waded through blood and guts to their waists, picking through gore and slimy tubes as they wiped their brows.
They peeked in diaries of soldiers, pages aged brown and burnt by shelling.
They visited the seaside for a break, sand grains rubbing under the pads of their fingers.
And then Darwin City Councillor Robyn Lesley, Territory librarian Iris Beale and student teacher Penny Cameron chose the Young Territory Author Awards.
``I didn't have very high expectations and I was really blown away by the standard,'' Ms Lesley said.
``Some students put in an inordinate amount of effort into the visual side of the book -- others were word craftsmiths.
``It must've taken some of the kids months to do it.''
The Darwin City Council awards, open to all Territory students, attracted 102 entries and were held last Wednesday during Children's Book Week.
Fourteen-year-old Rosanna Cameron was the overall winner and pocketed $500.
Her slim 5000-word novel -- entitled Found -- is told through the eyes of two main characters, a 10-year-old village girl and a soldier, living through the crisis of East Timor's struggle for independence.
The story unfolds as the girl's brother is killed by the soldier.
When the soldier is wounded in a revenge attack by a second brother, the parents -- horrified by the violence -- take in the soldier and care for him.
The three judges gave the Kormilda College student the gong for Found's originality, ``pertinence'' to the Top End, and evocation of emotions.
``The story's main point is that you can find some good in every situation -- one of the key things about it was compassion and kindness,'' Rosanna said.
It took her more than a year to finish; she started in early 2007 and promptly came down with a case of writer's block.
``One of the most difficult things was not knowing where the story would go next. There was also the ending -- I was stuck on it,'' she said.
She admitted it was also tricky getting into the head of her male soldier, but had help from family and friends who loaded her up with opinions.
Rosanna -- who won Kormilda's Elly Angel poetry prize last year -- said she was ``staggered'' to win the award.
Ms Lesley said it was almost too hard to say there was a best book in this year's pickings.
Entries ranged from the fictitious soldier's diary -- which had been aged and burnt around the edges -- to pop-up picture books full of flowers, and stories with collages of sea and sand.
``There were a couple of sci-fi novels by young fellows -- some of them with lots of blood and guts,'' Ms Lesley said. ``There were quite a few books that had an environmental twist.
``I wasn't expecting that level of creativity and skill from the younger ones.''
The books submitted for the awards, and suitable to be placed in a library collection, will be kept at Darwin's Casuarina Library for the public to read.
AGE GROUP WINNERS
AGE 16-18: Timothy Hansen for The Daughters Of Edgar Raven; AGE 13-15: Angie Ng for Wanda's Curse; AGE 9-12: Tisha Tejaya for Mysterique; AGE Under 8: Alfio Dilettoso for The Mean Queen.
AGE 16-18: Jarod Laskazeski for Sea Creatures Watch Out; AGE 13-15: Jack Williams for A Soldier's Diary; AGE 13-15: Sean Guy for The Legend Of Hathor; AGE 9-12: Dylan Hage-Grey for Battle Of The Bands; AGE 9-12: Darren Brown for Battle Of The Bands; AGE Under 8: Analese Richards for What Was In The Garden; AGE Under 8: Brighid Goodbun for The Book Of Secrets; AGE UNDER 8: Caitlin Cuff for Circus Fun.
AGE 16-18: Nyrssa Fitzallen for My Brother Shannon And Other Stories.