The 2020 Graeme Lay Short Story competition was awarded last night and for the first time it went to a winner in the South Island.
Graeme Lay said that he was heartened by the continued interest in the short story form. “This year, the tenth of the award, there were over sixty entries, more than ever before. It’s very heartening to see that in spite of all the other problems in the world, and in the face of dwindling publication opportunities, people are still being moved to write short form fiction.”
Graeme believes that key to a short story are credible characters, placed in interesting, believable circumstances; along with conflict, and a resolution to that conflict which is satisfying to the reader. One of the short-listing judges, award-winning author Janice Marriott agrees, saying of the entries, “the variety of styles and story subjects was notable as was the focus on characterisation. Many stories would have benefitted from having more happening in them. The shortlisted works all showed a command of the structure of a short story.”
First Place: Susan Cambridge for her story ‘The Meeting’
Susan Cambridge researches, writes and publishes historical fiction, non-fiction and short stories. Her novel Bound by Sea tells the story of her convict and merchant ancestors in Australia. She lives in Christchurch and is currently working on a collection of linked stories about the strong women in her ancestry. Several of these stories have been finalists in competitions in New Zealand and Australia.
The story ‘The Meeting’ grew from an event observed and treasured, a piece of history seen
unexpectedly on an ordinary day. “I enjoyed weaving it into the story of the books and reading I love,” she says.
Second Place: Cynthia Todd for her story ‘After’
Cynthia is the Onehunga-born proud daughter of Gloria Bevan (Mills and Boon novelist); and Major Thomas Henry Bevan, DSO. Cynthia is a proud mother, grandmother & great grandmother. Cynthia has published many children’s books, and has also been published in The Listener, NZ Woman’s Weekly and North & South.
‘After’ was inspired by Cynthia’s keen curiosity. How did it feel to be a single woman in the WWII years in Auckland? The fictional characters ‘leapt out’ of a chapter of Cynthia’s prospective book.
Third Place: Suzie Watt for her story ‘Free Falling’
Suzie Watt lives in Christchurch. Most recently in 2019, she graduated from the Masters in Creative Writing program (AUT) with First Class Honours, making the Dean’s list for 2019 with Distinction. She has had one short story published in Fresh Ink; A Collection of Voices from AOTEAROA New Zealand 2019. In 2020 she won the August Creative Writing New Zealand Flash Fiction competition. Currently she is working on a children’s book with illustrations.
Suzie was moved to write ‘Free Falling’, with an interest in cultural reference interwoven with nature and the symbolic use of spirituality with themes of death, grief and the renewal of birth, shown through the effects of post traumatic experiences long after they have happened.
Congratulations to the following writers for their Highly Commended stories: Nicky Taylor, Kate Ridley and Andrea Pollard and the shortlisted authors, Elena Inta, Angela Woolf, Richard Mountford, Tracie Lark
NZSA Auckland Branch would like to thank the shortlisting judges, Janice Marriott and Brent Leslie and all writers who took the time to apply.