A COLAC author has a one-in-five chance of winning $80,000 and one of Australia’s most prestigious writing prizes.
Judges have shortlisted Colac writer Sue Lawson’s novel Pan’s Whisper for a Prime Minister’s Literary Award.
Lawson, who released Pan’s Whisper last year, is one of five authors to receive $5000 for having their books shortlisted in the young adult fiction category.
Lawson said she was “absolutely shocked” when Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister Simon Crean announced the nominations on Saturday.
“I’m rapt and very, very excited – it’s a huge thing,” she said.
“I’m just absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted and happy just to sit on that now – I have absolutely no expectations.”
Lawson said the Prime Minister’s awards, which celebrate Australian literature’s contribution to the country’s culture, were significant in acknowledging Australian storytelling.
“It highlights Australian literature and that’s really important particularly in this day and age,” she said.
“Books may change but stories never will and it’s acknowledging the importance of it in our society and particularly Australian stories.”
Pan’s Whisper, which was also a notable book for the Children’s Book Council of Australia, is a standalone novel that tells the tale of a young girl who must move into a foster home.
The story captures the girl’s anger toward her mother who abandoned the girl, and her older sister who kept her from her father.
“The book itself deals with some big issues – one is foster care, and it was important to me that it was in a positive light, and bipolar is another big thing,” Lawson said.
“I have a habit of writing about really big issues because it interests me,” she said.
“The response has been fantastic – the amount of people that have said ‘oh my God, it should come with tissues’.”
Lawson said the nomination was “huge recognition” for her publisher Black Dog Books, who she has worked with for seven years.
She also said she was “humbled” to be competing for the prestigious prize alongside authors Bill Condon, Barry Jonsberg, Robert Newton and Sue Saliba.