Our judges for the ARA Historical Novel Prize

There’s only a few more weeks until entries open for the 2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize on 1 May. HNSA is delighted to announce the judges for this $30,000 literary award.


Our panel consists of our Chair, Linda Funnell, co-editor of the Newtown Review of Books, freelance editor and publishing consultant; Paula Morris historical novelist, academic and founder of the Academy of New Zealand Literature; Kirsty Murray historical novelist, Creative Fellow of the State Library of Victoria and Asialink Literature Resident in India; and Colin Falconer, author of over two dozen novels of historical fiction translated across 23 languages.

Linda Funnell, 2020 Chair, comments: ‘I’m thrilled to be one of the judges of this important new award for historical fiction. This is such a vibrant and diverse genre, with some tremendously talented writers working within it, so it’s wonderful to have an award that acknowledges the range and depth of the work being produced.’

Historical novelist, Colin Falconer, adds: ‘I’m really excited to have been invited on the judging panel for this innovative and prestigious award. I’m passionate about historical fiction and I hope we will find the next new and exciting voice in this very special genre.’

The ARA Historical Novel Prize is open to authors who are citizens or residents of Australia or New Zealand. Books published between 1 January 2019 and 30 June 2020 are eligible for entry. Entries may be submitted by authors, publishers or agents. Self-published books are also eligible. Now Australian and New Zealand historical novelists have a chance to be rewarded for excellence in writing, depth of research, and reader appeal. The nomination form and entry fee link will be available from 1 May 2020.

The Prize is being sponsored by ARA Group which has also supported the Historical Novel Society Australasia’s biennial conferences since 2017. ARA Group provides a comprehensive range of building services and products to major customers throughout Australia and New Zealand and its 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. It is also Principal Partner of Sydney Writers Festival, the Monkey Baa Theatre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and Presidential Partner of Taronga Zoo.

The long list for the ARA Historical Novel Prize will be announced in mid September 2020, and the short list in mid October. The winner will be announced on 18 November 2020. Our thanks go to the New England Writers’ Centre for administering the submission process.

About the Judges

Prize judges
Linda Funnell, Paula Morris,
Kirsty Murray & Colin Falconer

Linda Funnell is co-editor of the Newtown Review of Books, a free online book review founded with Jean Bedford in March 2012. For ten years she was a publisher with HarperCollins, and prior to that Random House. Currently she is a freelance editor and publishing consultant. The authors she has worked with include Colleen McCullough, Geraldine Brooks, Diane Armstrong, Louis Nowra and Steven Carroll. Linda has been a peer assessor for the Literature Board, a mentor for the Residential Editorial Program and has taught courses in publishing, editing and writing for UTS, the ASA and the Writing NSW.

Paula Morris (Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whatua) is the author of the story collection Forbidden Cities (2008); the long-form essay On Coming Home (2015); and eight novels, including Rangatira (2011), winner of best work of fiction at both the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards and Ngā Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards. Her most recent book is False River (2017), a collection of stories and essays around the subject of secret histories. She teaches creative writing at the University of Auckland, sits on the Māori Literature Trust, Mātātuhi Foundation, and New Zealand Book Awards Trust, and is the founder of the Academy of New Zealand Literature. Appointed an MZNM in the 2019 New Year Honours, she currently holds the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship.

Kirsty Murray is a multi-award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her eleven novels are studied in schools and universities around the world. Kirsty has been a Creative Fellow of the State Library of Victoria and an Asialink Literature Resident in India. Her acclaimed series of historical fiction Children of the Wind follows the lives of four Irish-Australian children whose lives intersect across 150 years. In 2011, her YA novel India Dark won the NSW Premier’s History Award for Young People’s History.

Colin Falconer is the author of over two dozen novels of historical fiction and has been translated into 23 languages. His novel Harem, based on the life of the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, sold over a quarter a million copies Germany alone and Aztec, about the Spanish conquistadore, Hernan Cortes, was on the bestseller lists in Mexico for four months. His latest novel, Loving Liberty Levine, about Russian immigrants coming to New York just before World War 1, is published by Lake Union.


The ARA Historical Novel Prize, for published historical novels by Australian and New Zealand authors, will be worth $30,000 to the winning author. With entries opening on May 1, it is a partnership between generous sponsor, the ARA Group, and the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA), in association with the New England Writers’ Centre. HNSA is delighted and proud to introduce this initiative, which celebrates the diversity and strength of an increasingly popular and acclaimed genre.

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