“Semblance” short-listed for the 2023 Dorothy Hewett Award

From the UWAP Media Release:

“The judging panel for the 2023 Award is Tony Hughes-d’Aeth, Astrid Edwards, Thuy On and Kate Pickard. This year the award received over 220 entries from across Australia. The judges were highly impressed, and slightly overwhelmed, by the quantity and quality of entrants to this award. Arriving at this shortlist has been a challenging and exciting task. The list represents a snapshot of the vitality of Australian writing. More information on the judges can be found on the UWA Publishing website.

In 2022 the judges announced the winner of the award to be Brendan Ritchie for his manuscript Eta Draconis which will be available on 14 May 2023. Previous winners include Josh Kemp’s Banjawarn, Kgshak Akec’s Hopeless Kingdom, Karen Wyld’s Where the Fruit Falls and the inaugural winner, Extinctions by Josephine Wilson, which went on to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Dorothy Hewett (1923-2002) is considered one of Australia’s most important writers, her work challenging the norms of 20th century Australian culture. Hewett made her mark as a poet, playwright and novelist. In 1986, Hewett was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to literature. Hewett won the Western Australian Premier’s Poetry Award in 1994 and 1995 for her collections Peninsula and Collected Poems: 1940-1995.

The Award is open to manuscripts of fiction, narrative nonfiction or poetry and the winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000, courtesy of Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, and will be offered a publishing contract with UWA Publishing.”

And the judges’ report said this about “Semblance”:

Semblance is a big-hearted eco-novel set within the battle to save the southern forests of Western Australia. The pacing of the novel, and its sense of moment, makes you feel the urgency of a crisis that moves between its human and more-than-human actors. Semblance pulses with a fierce immediacy, dense with the sense impressions of forest life. It also unfolds as a powerful crime story, but one which asks us to fully understand the nature of crime in the Anthropocene.”

Being my first novel, well, the first I’ve completed at least, I’m really excited and honoured by this. Writing a novel is hard work. It takes a long time, and a lot of self-belief that all the effort has purpose and hopefully will connect with a reader. I know I’ve a lot more to learn about prose writing – you can never know everything – but after years of working in performance, both as an actor and as a playwright, I believe I know how to tell a story.

Someone on social media was inspired to say it sounded like it could be film! I’d love that 🙂 But I’m taking nothing for granted. There are many good writers out there, and being short-listed is not the same as being published.

My fellow writers on the shortlist all have great reports from the judges. We’ll find out who wins in June, but I want to congratulate everyone on reaching this far with their manuscripts.