HNSA is delighted to announce the shortlist for the Elizabeth Jane Corbett Mentorship Prize for young adult fiction. The prize was established in honour of Elizabeth Jane Corbett who sadly passed away in January this year. The winner of the prize will be announced on 9 December and will provide the chance for a previously unpublished author from Australia or New Zealand to receive a mentorship with Wendy J Dunn to develop a completed first draft of an unpublished historical fiction manuscript for young adults.
Our judge, Rachel Nightingale (le Rossignol), had a difficult job choosing from the many entries. She has provided her comments for the five shortlisted authors and their manuscripts who are:
Runner Girl by Amy Tan
In 1955 Malaysia, Yu Ling is married against her will and gets drawn into the work of the Communist Party, becoming a runner of errands for them. This
is an original setting and an absorbing piece that draws you not only into the time and place, but Yu Ling’s internal world as well. Subtle foreshadowing
hints that she is going to get caught up in something larger than the traditional life laid out for her.
Fire and Water by Janette Muneke
Set in Dundee, Scotland, this is the dual timeline story of Maggie, who takes a job at a paper as a copy boy, and her grandmother, who has
experienced tragedy. With plenty of satisfying historical detail and a strong sense of place, the story and writing draw you in beautifully. Maggie is an
interesting, feisty YA heroine and the themes of cross dressing and the suffragette movement are seamless integrated into the story.
The Box of Forgotten Dreams by Michelle Bryceland
After Lizzie befriends Mabel, the girl disappears and in her search for her, Lizzie learns about Melbourne’s underbelly. Based on a chilling true story,
this murder mystery has all the ingredients of an appealing YA story, with romance and a serious growth trajectory for the initially shallow heroine.
There is an excellent sense of place and time, and moving between the stories of a rich and poor girl works well to contrast the living conditions of the
Moonskin by Arianne James
Isla has a strange connection to her aunt Adelaide, and to the sea, that may be connected to their family origins in Orkney and to tales of seals. This
beautifully written piece offers an intriguing blend of the mystical and the historical in its original approach to selkie tales, set in Tasmania. There is
plenty to capture the imagination, with hints of madness, prophetic dreams and a deep sense of longing as Isla battles with the idea of living the life
expected of her.
The Remarkables by Alison Stegert
When Winifred is expelled from her posh school she is quickly recruited to a secret group, The Remarkables, tasked with the safekeeping of Queen
Victoria. In this piece the flying pace is well matched with the quick wit of its central character as she discovers that being kicked out of school is the
gateway to something far more appealing. A humorous take on the Victorian era that grabs the reader and drags them along for an utterly enjoyable
Thanks to all who submitted their manuscripts. It was wonderful to see the great interest in writing for young adults. Good luck to all the shortlisters, and many thanks to both Rachel Nightingale and Wendy J Dunn for their support of the prize. Stay tuned for 9th December for the winner announcement!