Auckland writer Megan Frith is the winner of the inaugural Classics First Novel Award for her novel Trip and Die. Pic left shows Megan with her two sponsors, Calvin from Classics of Whangarei and Geoff of Penguin Books.
The Classics First Novel Award was launched in March of this year by Classics Bookshop of Whangarei in conjunction with Penguin New Zealand.
The winning novel is a very funny story of an overweight administration clerk in her late twenties who is looking for love and happiness. She consistently misses the obvious and drowns her sorrows in drink, envy and eventually in a clairvoyant.
Classics Bookshop manager Calvin Green describes the novel as ‘chick lit with down to earth common sense messages from an elder’. He says it is ‘a well-written, funny, fast-moving and heart warming tale’.
Megan wins $1000.00 from Classics Bookshop and a detailed critical review by the publishing department of Penguin New Zealand, who also have the first option to publish the novel.
Says Penguin publishing director Geoff Walker: ‘The shortlisted works were all of a high standard, but Megan Frith’s novel stood out for its wit and sharpness and sheer “sassiness”. It’s the work of a writer who has studied the genre carefully and has the ability to pull off a story which is convincing, funny and a joy to read.’
Megan began writing around five years ago by doing an NZIBS novel writing course. Since then, she says, there have been plenty of times she wanted to give up. And she would have if not for regular email pep talks from her Auntie Helen (Reynolds).
Megan says that her current plan is to enrol at Massey next year to do an extramural course in creative writing. "And of course my long term goal is that one day I'll be famous..."
The four shortlisted writers for this award were Susan Liddington of Kerikeri, Noeline Arnott of Palmerston North, Robert Silk of New Plymouth and Barney Walker of Wellington.
The winner is the writer whose novel, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates the greatest entertainment value, quality and originality. The competition this year attracted 45 entries from all over New Zealand. Enquiries were also received from the USA, Canada and Italy.
‘All the novels were given a fair reading and most were very readable, says Classics manager Calvin Green. ‘The judging of such competitions does not come with an objective rule book with an absolute marking system. Hence the contentious nature of many international competitions and I have no doubt that more than one of the entries was a possible winner.’
As a finalist in the inaugural First Novel Award, I would like to convey my sincere congratulations to Megan Frith on her success and to the other finalists, Noelene Arnott, Robert Silk and Barney Walker.
I would like to thank Calvin Green, Geoff Walker and the Northern Advocate panel of judges for providing this opportunity for first time novelists to have our manuscripts evaluated by professionals.
Thank you all for your time and effort and congratulations for the obvious success of the inaugural competition.
Thanks Susi, that was a lovely gesture.
It took a fairly strong cup of tea and half a packet of Gingernuts to get over the shock, I can tell you.
Not to mention there were forty five people who entered the Classics First Novel Award. Each of us wrote an entire novel! That's an 'entire novel' more than most people even contemplate. And because writers never give up, I'd say Calvin and Geoff are going to get double that number of entries next year. Here's hoping.
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