Monday, December 10, 2012


The New Zealand Society of Authors – Auckland Branch


Graeme Lay (right) said there were 44 entries for the competition in this its second year.  It was a relatively straightforward exercise to draw up a short list of stories because the best ones stood out immediately. I chose ten out of the 44. Then the hard part started.
I read and re-read the ten stories many times until I chose a top six. These were selected because like all worthwhile fiction the characters and their circumstances lingered in my mind for some time after I read them. All six were eminently publishable and there was very little between them.
Judges in a court of law, after hearing all the evidence, often reserve their judgement. This gives them time to privately contemplate all the evidence before they deliver their verdict. Making literary judgements involves a not dissimilar process. I reserved my judgement for some time. Then, after many more readings and reflections, I reached a verdict. Several verdicts, in fact.

First Place
The Gift written by Fiona Sussman
This story manages in less than 1500 words to present the complexities of the life and death of its deceased central character. Skilfully structured, many-layered, and with a deeply satisfying ending, The Gift is a worthy winner of this year’s competition. Fiona read her story to a packed auditorium and the enthusiastic applause that followed was vindication the delighted audience wholeheartedly agreed with Graeme Lay’s selection.

Second Place
Q and the Power of P written by Bernard Brown
The most ambitious of the finalists, this story of political oppression and the downfall of a dictatorial regime has many deft touches, including a great concluding line. It is ‘Smith’s Dream’ with humour.

Third Place
Talking to Howard written by Karen Goa
Simultaneously funny and very sad, this story gives insights into the teenage mind and the ramifications of family loss. The revelation of the identity of the mysterious ‘Howard’ makes a wonderful ending.

Highly Commended
Shy written by Ross Doughty
A story set during a dive trip on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A highly dramatic plot, with a satisfying twist at the end.
Spanish Pilgrims written by Rebecca Hayter
An evocative story set in rural Spain and based on a spiritual journey. Both the narrator and the central character gain the reader’s sympathy.
The Boys at the Beach written by Judith White
 moving story involving the generation gap, deviant behaviour and some teenage lives disturbed by a sudden death.

No comments: