Margaret Hickey Winner of AAWP/ASSF Emerging Writers’ Prize 2018

It is our pleasure to announce the winner of this year’s Australasian Association of Writing Programs / Australian Short Story Festival Emerging Writers’ Prize. The winner is Margaret Hickey for her short story ‘Fowler’s Bay’!

Highly commended entries (in alphabetical order) include:

  • ‘A Name Like For Ever’ by Suzanne Hermanoczki
  • ‘Between You and the Stars’ by Nicole Janov
  • ‘Cat’s Kiss’ by Alison Thompson
  • ‘Pass Muster’ by Deb Wain

Judges’ appraisal for ‘Fowler’s Bay’:

Margaret Hickey’s ‘Fowler’s Bay’ is a quietly humorous story about poverty, hardship and loss. A story about a woman who was returned to her childhood bay to find that although much has changed she still can’t breathe there because of all the ‘sand blowing down my gullet’. In few words Hickey paints the picture of a life that has floundered, a woman who has lost plenty but who is still ready for life to take new turns. ‘Fowler’s Bay’ is a sad but life-affirming story that stood out in this year’s batch of fine stories.

Thank you to all authors who submitted to the prize. The judges were overwhelmed by the quality and diversity of entries. We thank and acknowledge the generosity of our fine judges.

Margaret has won a ticket to this year’s Australian Short Story Festival in Perth and a one-year membership to the AAWP. Margaret’s work will also be considered for publication in the AAWP affiliated literary journal, Meniscus. As part of the Australian Short Story Festival, Margaret will read her winning story at the AAWP X ASSF session in the Centre for Stories courtyard. ‘Fowler’s Bay’ along with the highly commended stories will be included in the upcoming anthology, Ace Anthology: Stories by Emerging Writers.

We got the opportunity to have a quick chat with Margaret, and got to know her and ‘Fowler’s Bay’ a little better!

What does winning the AAWP/ASSF Emerging Writer’s Prize mean to you?

Winning this prize makes me so excited, it’s a real validation of my writing and makes me feel as if I’m on the right track. Thank you!

Can you tell us about your process of writing ‘Fowler’s Bay’?

My family camped at Fowler’s Bay (SA) a couple of years ago and the landscape fascinated me. I tried to imagine how it would feel for someone to return to a town like Fowler’s Bay, knowing that it is, like all of us, in a constant state of decline.  

You’ll be reading your winning story at this year’s Australian Short Story Festival. Will this be your first time in Perth?

 I’ve been to Perth a few times. As a child with my family when we did the whole, ‘going around Australia’ trip and then as a young 20-year-old on a break from Uni. We hitchhiked from Melbourne to Perth and then right up the West Coast. I remember lots of fun nights in Northbridge and Claremont and swimming every day. I can’t wait to come back!

How long have you been writing?

 I’ve just been helping my parents pack up our family home and I found all my old diaries. I can’t decide whether I was a funny teenager or just completely vacuous – but it’s clear from my entries that I always loved writing. About ten years ago I began writing with the intent to publish, entering competitions and so forth.

What attracted you to write short stories? 

Tim Winton, Robert Drewe, Cate Kennedy, Steven Crane and Annie Proulx. I have always loved the short story. Give me a short story any day – no other medium has the potential to devastate or thrill to such effect.

Margaret Hickey is a playwright and author living in North East Victoria. Marg’s short stories have been shortlisted and won prizes in many awards. She has been published in many newspapers and literary journals including Meanjin. When Marg isn’t writing, she teaches Theatre Studies at a local high school. She lives in the North East with her husband and three sons in a small house surrounded by gums.

Be sure to RSVP to our free AAWP X ASSF session to hear Margaret read her story at the festival! RSVP here

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