Thursday, October 28, 2010

The nation’s best short story writers announced

The nation’s top short story writers were announced tonight at the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Awards ceremony in a star-studded literary affair.   

Supreme Award for the open division went to political analyst Gemma Bowker-Wright for “The Red Queen Hypothesis”, who struck gold with her second entry into the competition after taking out the runner-up spot in the Secondary School category in 2002.

Gemma’s story “The Red Queen Hypothesis” was also the People’s Choice for best short story.

Head judge of the Awards’ open division and award winning fiction writer Charlotte Grimshaw says she was instantly struck by the winning story.
Bowker-Wright’s ability to create atmosphere with the use of spare, straightforward language – somehow unleashing the mysterious power of ordinary words – demonstrates a real talent for writing,” says Grimshaw.

“The Red Queen Hypothesis” is a story about three Wellington students flatting together in a dilapidated old house. All three are students studying evolution as part of a science degree in their final year of University.

The story has won the author $5000 cash, publication of her story in the Sunday Star-Times and $500 worth of books from Random House as well as an additional $750 cash for winning the People’s Choice Award.

Second prize in the open division went to Alexandra Sides of Dunedin for her story “End of a Holiday” and third prize was awarded to Cantabrian Anna Keir for her story entitled “Stalking Ella Ryman”.

The number of short story entries entered into the Sunday Star-Times competition continues to grow with over 2,400 received, 600 more than the number of entries submitted last year into the open division, and over 300 in the secondary school division.

Open division head judge Charlotte Grimshaw said that she has been so fascinated by the judging process that she is considering writing a short story about the judge of a short story competition.
“I’ve always been interested in the voices of New Zealand, and in these stories I’ve encountered a terrific range”, says Grimshaw. “I’ve read and reread, and discovered more about the stories in the process and I believe this year’s winners have written truly impressive stories.”

Grimshaw was joined by prolific writer Joy Cowley, head judge of the secondary school division, along with eight pre-jdges who are all professional writers or book editors to help whittle down the number of entries.

Now in their 26th year, the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Awards, in association with Random House, encourage and recognise the talents of published and unpublished New Zealand writers. The top prizes were announced in an awards ceremony at Fables Galleries in Parnell, Auckland tonight.

The awards are nationally recognised for championing and showcasing New Zealand short fiction. Some of this country's leading writers, including Norman Bilbrough, Judith White, Barbara Anderson, Linda Olsson and Sarah Quigley have achieved success in the competition.

First prize in the Secondary School division went to Hamilton Christian School’s Tim McGiven for his story “The Long Lake”. McGiven went home with $1000 cash, $500 worth of books from Random House for his school, a work experience day at Random House and publication of his story in the Sunday Star-Times.

The winning stories will be published in the Sunday Star-Times on Sunday 31 October.

It was a superb event held in the charming Fables Rug Gallery in Parnell, Auckland wonderfully chaired for the third consecutive year by Sunday Star Times journalist Finlay Macdonald with excerpts from the winning stories being read in fine style by popular radio broadcaster Jim Mora.

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