Saturday, 22 August 2009

Award Winning Australian Fiction Launch

Really enjoyed the launch of Melbourne Books' Award Winning Australian Fiction 2009 yesterday at MWF. Was nice to meet Eleanor Marney again, who I met at the Newstead Short Story Tattoo back in May, and to listen to her read again. Also nice to have a cuppa with a friend afterwards.

This year's volume is bigger than the first, with thirty-nine pieces instead of about twenty-seven. And we got to hear from twelve of them. All the readings were great and demonstrated the diversity of styles, voices etc the book has to offer, although Colin Driscoll, the final reader, stole the show with his bush poem 'Memoirs of a Sheep'.

I still remember receiving the first email from Melbourne Books, when I was asked to submit the prize winning story from our 2008 competition. I loved the idea of such a book, and was chuffed for Hayley Katzen, a new writer (then) whose story 'Not Cricket' had been a standout winner in the 2008 comp. Of course, it was included in AWAF 2008, and Hayley has another in this year.

This book is exciting for so many reasons. As a competition organiser and publisher because, among other things, the fact that it celebrates the short story and provides writers additional exposure, particularly for winners of smaller competitions. For writers, it provides not only a list of competitions they may not already know about, but an opportunity to analyse what makes a prize-winning story. And it's a fine read too.

I started on the way home. I was pretty stoked too, that in Arnold Zable's Foreword, right after saying he wouldn't single out any stories, he singled out (to praise, of course) Jennifer Mills's 'The capital of missing persons', from our competition. She is actually one of just two or three writers with two pieces in the anthology.

The train ride saw me through five of the stories (yeah, I'm slow), and I look forward to sitting down with some more really soon.

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