Short story winner 'ticks all boxes'

MEMORIES of her hard-working father inspired retired English teacher Dianne Bowes’s winning entry in the inaugural Newcastle Herald Summer Short Story Competition.

Mrs Bowes’s story, A Week Off at Christmas, was selected from 150 entries and captures a family’s journey from Maitland to Nelson Bay for a summer holiday.

‘‘It is nostalgic without being sentimental,’’ said Hunter Writers Centre director and judge Karen Crofts.

 ‘‘The opening paragraph is evocative and sets the scene. The writer also captures the children’s world, which exists alongside that of the adults. It ticks all the boxes.’’

Mrs Bowes, of Clarence Town, retired in 2010 after a 34-year teaching career and has relished the free time to focus on writing. She completed her winning story in half an hour.

Second prize was awarded to The Shrink’s Appointment by Sheree Christophersen, of Kotara. Judges described it as a ‘‘taut, well-crafted story’’ about an encounter between a troubled teenager and psychiatrist.

The ‘‘mysterious and atmospheric’’ speculative fiction entry Lotus by David Ross, of Cameron Park, was awarded third prize.

Sand by Megan Buxton, of Chisolm, was highly commended. Judges also made special mention of To the Beach by Grant Long, Gone by Lindsay Young, and The Taste of the River by Cynthia Hyde.

Herald editor Chad Watson praised all entrants for the creative and diverse way they interpreted the competition theme, ‘‘From the valley to the sea’’.

Mrs Bowes received a library of new-release books from Random House, Allen & Unwin and Text Publishing valued at $1000, as well as a KOBO touch e-reader and leather folio package valued at $152, from Domayne Kotara.

Ms Christophersen received a $200 voucher from MacLean’s Booksellers, and Mr Ross received a $100 voucher. All three also received 12 months’ membership of the Hunter Writers Centre and a 12-week Herald subscription.

Read the winning entries at

family holiday.  Picture: Ryan Osland

family holiday. Picture: Ryan Osland