In conjunction with its generous sponsor ARA Group, the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) has announced the three talented authors, and their outstanding novels, selected in the Shortlist for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize – CYA Category:

The Winners of ARA Historical Novel Prize will be announced on Thursday 19 October 2023.

The Judging Panel

The 2023 judging panel for the CYA category included Christopher Cheng (Chair), Dr Craig Cormick and Lauren Keenan.

According to Christopher Cheng, “The power of historical fiction is truly reflected in these three shortlisted titles. In each work the reader can slip into the characters and feel history flow with and around them – they could be active participants experiencing all that is happening to the characters on the pages. These wonderfully imagined books are a demonstration not only of the skill of the writers in creating cleverly moulded narratives, but also in the depth of research that was undertaken to craft the words that we are reading, deftly weaving the historical fact throughout the fiction. Readers will be wanting more from these authors.”

“These three titles are beautifully written and were immediate standouts for the judges in a longlist of delightful titles.”

Running with Ivan by Suzanne Leal

HQ (HarperCollins Publishers)

About Suzanne Leal

Suzanne Leal is the author of novels The Teacher’s Secret, Border Street and The Deceptions, for which she won the Nib People’s Choice Prize and was shortlisted for the Davitt Awards and the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award. A senior member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and facilitator at community, corporate and literary events, Suzanne is the host of Thursday Book Club, a relaxed, friendly book club connecting readers online. 

About Running with Ivan

Thirteen-year-old Leo Arnold hates his life. He doesn’t want a new school, a new house or a new family. And he definitely doesn’t want to be sharing a room with his new stepbrother, Cooper.

What Leo wants is to be somewhere else, far away. So when he uncovers an old music box and turns the key, he is astonished to find himself in Prague, surrounded by whispers and fears of a second world war. A war that ended decades ago.

In Prague, Leo meets Ivan, a Czech boy, and the two become friends. But when World War Two finally erupts, the unimaginable becomes real and the boys are imprisoned. Fearing the worst, Leo and Ivan frantically search for an escape. A search that sends them running.

Running against time.

Running for their lives.

A Quote from Suzanne Leal
“I am delighted to be on the shortlist of this prestigious and generous prize, and to be in such wonderful company. My congratulations to Katrina Nannestad and Amelia Mellor and my thanks to the judges, to Elisabeth Storrs, Edward Federman and the ARA Group for their support of writers and literature.”
“By sending us into past worlds, historical fiction helps us to better understand our present. As a reader, historical fiction excites my imagination; as the author of Running with Ivan, it is my hope to excite the reader’s imagination by taking them back to World War Two Europe.”

The Bookseller’s Apprentice by Amelia Mellor 

(Affirm Press)

About Amelia Mellor

Amelia Mellor began her writing career as her secondary school’s resident playwright in Year 11. As part of her creative writing course at the University of Melbourne, she completed a thesis on the reinvention of the Industrial Revolution in children’s fantasy literature. Her debut novel, The Grandest Bookshop in the World, has won an Australian Book Industry Award, an Indie Book Award, a NSW Premier’s Literary Award and a Booksellers’ Choice Award. When she isn’t writing, Amelia enjoys hiking, gardening and drawing. 

About The Bookseller’s Apprentice

Return to Amelia Mellor’s magical Melbourne in the prequel to best-seller The Grandest Bookshop in the World.

Twelve-year-old Billy Pyke has a talent for sorting things out, whether it’s his chaotic family home or the busy book stall at Paddy’s Market. In 1871, the market is the loud, smelly, marvellous heart of Melbourne, and Billy is delighted to work at the book stall there for the eccentric Mr Cole. When his new friend Kezia warns him of a sinister magician called the Obscurosmith, Billy can’t believe her stories of magical deals gone horribly wrong – until he sees them happening. And the night that the Obscurosmith crosses a terrifying and dangerous line, Billy realises something: if he wants the Obscurosmith stopped, he’ll have to do it himself.

Award-winning author Amelia Mellor delivers another race-against-time adventure in this action-packed prequel to The Grandest Bookshop in the World. Loaded with tricks, riddles, magic and mayhem, The Bookseller’s Apprentice is perfect for Mellor fans and newcomers alike.

A Quote from Amelia Mellor

“I’m thrilled to be shortlisted for the Children’s and Young Adult ARA Historical Novel Prize. Historical fiction combines the best of learning through information and learning through imagination, and it’s great to see the genre both thriving in Australia and promoted so highly through this award. Thank you, ARA and HNSA, for elevating Australian historical writing!”

Waiting for the Storks by Katrina Nannestad

(ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

About Katrina Nannestad

Katrina Nannestad is an award-winning Australian author. Her books include the CBCA-shortlisted We Are Wolves, The Girl Who Brought Mischief, the Travelling Bookshop series, the Girl, the Dog and the Writer series, the Olive of Groves series, the Red Dirt Diaries series, the Lottie Perkins series, and the historical novel Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief.

About Waiting for the Storks

It’s the Second World War and Himmler’s Lebensborn Program is in full flight when eight-year-old Zofia Ulinski is kidnapped by the Germans. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, just like the other Polish children taken from their families and robbed of their names, their language, their heritage.

But when Zofia is adopted into a wealthy and loving German family, it is easier, it is safer to bury her past, deep down, so everything is forgotten. Until the Polish boy arrives.

And the past comes back to haunt her.

From Katrina Nannestad, multi-award-winning author of We Are Wolves and Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief, comes a story about family lost and found, and the choices we make when we don’t have a choice at all.

A Quote from Katrina Nannestad

“Wow! I’m thrilled  and honoured that Waiting For the Storks has made it to the shortlist of the ARA Historical Novel Prize.” 

“Historical fiction is such an exciting genre, for both the reader and the writer. It has the potential to entertain, educate, challenge and inspire. This shortlisting is a huge encouragement to me as I continue to explore lesser known stories of war and share them with my young readers.”



ARA Group provides a comprehensive range of building services and products to major customers throughout Australia and New Zealand and – through its workplace giving program, The ARA Endowment Fund – plays a proud and positive role in the community.

The ARA Endowment Fund currently donates 100 per cent of the interest earned annually to The Go Foundation, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and The David Lynch Foundation.

ARA Group has also sponsored the Historical Novel Society Australasia’s biennial conferences since 2017, is Principal Partner of Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Monkey Baa Theatre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Crown Sponsor of the Taronga Zoo and Significant Partner of the Story Factory.

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