Three Auckland Writers Scoop Awards in 2019 Graeme Lay Short Story Competition

The 2019 Graeme Lay Short Story competition was awarded last night with three Auckland writers winning first, second and third place.

Graeme Lay said that he found the standard impressive this year. “All were technically adroit, highly original and therefore publishable. Plot, character and language were well handled, with the themes of family and community tensions recurring ones. There was some strikingly original imagery.”

Short-listing judge, award-winning author Fiona Sussman, agrees saying, “the New Zealand short story is as strong as ever. It was a pleasure to be involved in judging this year’s entries; however, narrowing down a shortlist proved a challenge. The writing was of a very high calibre and familiar topics were dealt with in fresh and inspired ways.”

 First Place: Mandy McMullin for her story ‘Sign Reader’

Graeme called ‘Sign Reader’ a “beautifully structured story which with little apparent effort weaves contemporary themes of coastal conservation versus development into a compelling narrative.”

Mandy has recently embarked on creative writing as a complement to being an actor and Landscape Architect. She describes herself as a Biophile and is a member of Extinction Rebellion. When she has time, she likes to keep company with trees and plants, walk on Maungawhau (the Waitakeres before Kauri dieback), and swim in the sea. She lives with her husband Dave and dog Tui, in a lovely old villa in Mt Eden where they spend a lot of time in the garden, tagging butterflies, making compost and growing much of their own food.

Second Place: Leanne Radojkovich for her story ‘Last Flowers’

Graeme called ‘Last Flowers’ a “poignant, delicately layered story of the grief, displacement and exile caused by war. The symbolism of flowers and swans is handled with great subtlety and lends unity to the narrative arc.”

Leanne Radojkovich’s début short story collection First fox was published in 2017 by the The Emma Press. Most recently her stories have appeared in Landfall, takahē and Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand. She lives in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland where she works as a librarian. @linedealer

Third Place: Linley Jones for her story ‘No Birds Sang’

Graeme said ‘No Bird Sang’ was an “affecting account of a war veteran’s recollection of his imprisonment, maltreatment and disfigurement during the bitter conflict in Vietnam.”

Linley says, ‘writing, sailing and gardening seem to rule my life. Writing started when Les and I were sailing around NZ and the South Pacific. Published works include Junior Fiction and short stories for adults as in ‘Apple Tea and Camel Pee’. Several of the stories have won awards.We live at Half Moon Bay and aim to leave for posterity a hillside clad in Native trees. This entails much climbing using ropes etc. Our family call it ‘abseil gardening’.

Graeme said the winning three stories stood out, “for the originality of their narratives and the subtlety of the writing. They were well nuanced, with several layers of meaning condensed to within the stated limit of 1500 words. The expression ‘reading between the lines’ became pertinent to these stories, with each reading revealing more about their characters. It took hours for me to separate them.”

Congratulations to the following writers for their Highly Commended stories: Susan Cambridge, Majella Cullinane, Diana Duckworth, Lucy Hodgson, Helen McNeil, Liz Holsted.
NZSA Auckland Branch would like to thank the shortlisting judges, Fiona Sussman and Brent Leslie and all writers who took the time to apply.

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