Judges Magdalena Ball, Winnie Dunn, and Andrew Pippos have selected five writers for the 2022 Fresh Ink Emerging Writer Prize shortlist. “These shortlisted writers are connected through their strong themes, expert planning, and the strength of their craft. I can’t wait to see how their work flourishes in the future,” said Dunn, general manager of Sweatshop Literacy Movement.
The winner will be announced at a special event on 15 October and will receive $5000 for professional development and a week-long residency at Varuna, The National Writers’ House. Thank you to sponsors Create NSW, Elephant in the Room Wines, and Varuna.
Meet the shortlisted writers:
Kathryn Goldie, Big Skies for Lonely People.
Kathryn is a writer who lives in Yamba, a small town at the mouth of the Clarence River, on Yaegl country, with her wife and their dog. Part of the Northern Rivers, Yamba was cut off from the rest of Australia in 2022’s devastating floods for more than a week. She is inspired daily by the natural wonders of the Clarence Valley and the strength and spirit of the communities along the river.
In Big Skies for Lonely People, it’s 1983, and Mel has a crush on the beautiful Scott Smee, an aspiring tennis champion who lives next door to her grandmother. But just as Mel starts to get close to Scott, her parents’ marriage ends and her mother takes Mel and her sister from Sydney’s red-brick suburbs to faraway Grafton, a riverside town in the country.
Judges’ comment: Kathryn has created a series of interlinked short stories written in polished prose and set in evocative Australian rural settings. The author has already invested time and money in their own development and the development plan focused on tangible options for taking the work to the next level. The first-person narration had high-quality, engaging dialogue and an engaging coming-of-age arc that was immediately interesting.
Atul Joshi, Turn Back Time.
Born in Myanmar of Indian parents, Atul migrated to Australia as a child. Since completing a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at UTS, he has been shortlisted for the Saturday Paper’s 2020 Donald Horne Prize, has had short fiction published in The Big Issue, Westerly, Island, Seizure and Ricepaper Magazine, as well as non-fiction in the Portside Review, Peril Magazine, Sydney Review of Books and in Benjamin Law’s Growing up Queer in Australia. Atul lives in Robertson, NSW, with his husband and boyfriend and is currently undertaking a PhD in creative writing focusing on queer memoir and biography.
Through the telling of queer lives across time and space, Turn Back Time is a work that looks at queer intimacy, intersectionality, and the nature of a possible queer utopia. A work of creative non-fiction, the work asks, how do we look to the past to understand the present and create our futures? Ultimately, it celebrates being different and living radical lives in a post same-sex marriage, and increasingly queerphobic, world.
Judges’ comment: Turn Back Time is a funny, creative non-fiction manuscript, opens at the 40th Anniversary Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras After Party just following the marriage equality plebiscite, waiting for the appearance of Cher. The manuscript promises to be equal parts fun and significant.
Alejandra Martinez, Salsa in the Suburbs.
Alejandra has been writing short stories for many years. Some of these stories have been published in Best Australian Stories, Black Inc, Girls Talk and Puentes Review. Born in Uruguay, Alejandra, migrated to Australia at the age of seven with her family, as a military dictatorship was about to take over the country. It is these life experiences that have shaped her writing; writing that explores both migration and universal themes of identity, loss, aging, mental health, and resilience. She now lives in the Blue Mountains.
Salsa in the Suburbs is a story of migration, displacement, and the journey in search of identity, belonging and love. The story is told through Juan, an older South American widower and his daughters, Lola and Betty. After placing a personal ad for their father, the daughters are surprised by the number of women that contact him although Juan seems to find a problem with them all, until he meets Frances, while walking his dog. Frances is a strong working-class woman and a force to be reckoned with and suddenly Juan no longer needs his daughters, and his life takes a new direction. With Frances, Juan begins to step out into an Australian world that, while at his doorstep, he had never known.
Judges’ comment: Alejandra’s voice is unique and deserving of a wider audience; her prose is sophisticated; the temporal shifts in her manuscript are expertly realised.
Lucy Nelson, The Feeling Bones.
Lucy is a writer of fiction and non-fiction based in Lake Macquarie. In 2021, she placed first in The Newcastle Short Story Award. She has also been shortlisted for the International Sean O’Faolain Short Fiction Prize (UK) and longlisted for the International Desperate Literature Prize. Lucy is a former recipient of the annual Templeberg Residential Writing Fellowship (Writers Victoria), has been writer-in-residence at Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centre in Canberra and has moderated and contributed to panel discussions at Australian and international literary festivals. She is undergoing a residency at Hunter Writers Centre and completing a collection of short fiction.
The most breakable scaffolds are those we lean on most heavily. The Feeling Bones explores the fragility of family bonds and the human skeleton.
Judges’ comment: The Feeling Bones is an exceptional piece of writing. The characters are brought to life with memorable phrases. And the meta-structure of the story confirms this is a writer with enormous talent and potential.
Sally Pilgrim, Lachie and the Worry Bugs.
Sally understands the power of a story and the impact quality literature can have on children. During her 15 years as a primary teacher, her favourite part of the day was reading books to her class. Writing her own children’s picture book has been Sally’s goal for many years and she is excited to start writing down the ideas that have been floating around in her head. She is currently working in educational technology, assisting in the production of online resources for primary school students. As well as writing, she loves to hang out with kids and animals, go on walking adventures and volunteer with Camp Quality.
Lachie and the Worry Bugs is a children’s picture book dealing with the issue of anxiety. Going to a birthday party for the first time without an accompanying parent is a milestone for many children. It can bring a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and worry. Lachie visualises his worries about going to Polly’s party alone, then uses effective strategies to manage this anxiety.
Judges’ comment: Lachie and the Worry Bugs is a charming picture book by an experienced primary school teacher well-placed to make the transition into children’s author. The concept of using a positive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach to children’s anxiety in a fun-to-read-aloud picture book is a novel approach that fills a needed market niche.