'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 8 January 2018

Guest Post: Interviews with Prime Minister's Literary Award Shortlisters

Winners of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced in Canberra at 10.30am on Friday 1 December. See here for details.

Much of our superb Australian literary talent lies within children's literature - fortunately for us all! 

To give you even greater insight into some of last year's winners and shortlisted finalists, here are some bite-sized treats about them to indulge in which, unlike other treats to be had at this time of year, won't leave you feeling overweight and guilt-ridden. Enjoy!

How do you get started every day?  

Bob Graham
Bob Graham, joint winner of the Children’s award for Home in the Rain (Walker Books):
Breakfast is over, our dog Alfie walked, coloured pencils, pastels, pens, ink bottles, water colour, scalpels, scissors, paper, and yesterday’s shopping list cleared to one side on my desk. Then: “...Now, where was I up to?”

Claire Zorn, shortlisted in Young Adult for One Would Think the Deep (UQP):
I try to treat writing like any other job: once the kids are off to school and preschool, I'm in my writing room at my desk trying to get some words onto the page. 

Claire Zorn
Glenda Millard, shortlisted in Young Adult for The Stars at Oktober Bend (Allen & Unwin):
A nice hot, juicy cup of tea and a walk through the garden in my nighty to feed the ducks and chooks. Sometimes I'm still in the garden (in my nighty) hours later.  

 Where do you like to write?

Glenda Millard
Glenda Millard:
My favourite place to write is in a little cottage built in 1860 in Maldon, Australia's First Noteable Town.  But I can write just about anywhere. I wrote the first draft of my most recent picture book in a public library in Bendigo, Victoria and finished it in Manning Art Gallery in NSW. 

Dianne Touchell, shortlisted in the Young Adult category for Forgetting Foster (Allen & Unwin):
I have a big oak desk heavier than god.  All my cats fit on it.

Dianne Touchell
Bob Graham:
I have a desk looking out the front window on the street. Day after day, Alfie (my, I’m talking about dogs a lot today) scares the postman delivering mail. Day after day do I hurriedly leave my work, run outside and apologise. There’s some kind of comfort in the certainty of that.

Some of the world’s best known authors have writing rituals and superstitions they observe. What are yours?

Wendy Orr
Wendy Orr, joint winner of the Children’s category for The Dragonfly Song (Allen & Unwin):
The verse sections of The Dragonfly Song and the current work in progress had to be written by hand, to the music of Sigur Ros, in notebook with thick, unlined pages. 

Dianne Touchell:
I love rituals and superstitions.  The most interesting people seem to have them.  I should get some.

Which was your favourite book of 2017 and why?

Janet A Holmes
Janet A Holmes, shortlisted in Children’s for Blue Sky, Yellow Kite (Hardie Grant Egmont):
Georgia Blain’s Between a Wolf and a Dog (it was published in 2016 but I didn’t read it until this year)The characters seemed like people I could know living a life that could be mine. It all felt so credible and heartbreakingly real without being overly dramatic or at all sentimental. I also greatly admired the sense of place. I now want to read all her other books too.

Tamsin Janu, shortlisted in the Children’s category for Figgy and the President (Scholastic Australia):
I loved the middle grade novel How to Bee by Bren MacDibble. It’s sweet, poignant and has a strong and awesome female protagonist who you really cheer for.

Tasmin Janu
Glenda Millard:
Sorry, this book was published in 2012, but I only discovered it in 2017 and I have to make it my favourite: Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I love it because it is a book about teenage boys and while it doesn't shy away from the turmoil, angst and uncertainty of young men, it is tender, beautiful, gentle and moving - unlike so many books for and about teenagers.  

 For Judges’ details, click here.

Follow The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards online: