The Nance Donkin Award

I’m thrilled to announce that today I was awarded the Society of Women Writers Nance Donkin Literary Award. This national award is given biennially to a woman writing for children. Thank you Lisa Riley, Publisher for Young Readers at Penguin Random House for attending the ceremony on my behalf. I’m deeply honoured to receive an award in memory of this pioneering Australian author and as I’ve outlined in my acceptance speech below, the award links back to the first steps I took on my writing journey with the WA branch of  the Society of Women Writers. The image below shows me accepting the SWW Bronze Quill Award in 1992 with baby Sophie (now 27) in tow.

Jumping ahead to 2019 …

Here is my Acceptance Speech for the  2019 Nance Donkin Literary Award

Thank you for this great honour. I wish I could be with you at the awards ceremony today however I am in Albany, Western Australia, taking part in the University of WA (Albany campus, where I work as tutor) 20 year celebrations. Thank you, Lisa Riley, Publisher for Young Readers at Penguin Random House, for kindly representing me and accepting the Nance Donkin Award on my behalf.

As a regional author living five hours from what is said to be the most isolated capital city in the world, it’s wonderfully reaffirming and humbling to be chosen as winner for a national award that recognises and encourages women who write for children. Although I’m not with you in person today, I know that we are all together in spirit as women who write.

The Society of Women Writers will always hold a special place in my heart. As a nervous young aspiring author, living away from family and friends on the other side of the country, I joined the WA branch of the Society of Women Writers. A warm circle of kind, wise and supportive women welcomed me. I’d found my tribe. I was teaching at the time and could not attend weekday meetings, so I joined a magazine group. How I looked forward to seeing that bulky envelope sticking out of my letterbox each month. I’d make a cuppa then settle down to read my fellow members’ offerings, write gentle suggestions for them and pore over their feedback on my own scribblings. This group provided valuable encouragement and counsel as I learnt my craft. Years later when a few SWW members decided to begin a critique group focusing on writing for children and younger readers, I became editor.

The WA branch of the Society of Women Writers also sponsors the Bronze Quill Short Story Award. It was the first writing award I won, in 1992. My story, Gokiburi (meaning cockroach in Japanese), was loosely inspired by moving north to Carnarvon as a young Victorian-trained teacher after living in Japan for three years. The story is about a Japanese wife trying to adapt to life in a new place, something I’d experienced both in Tokyo and in the west.

I’m thrilled to now win another Society of Women Writers Award, one that honours an inspirational, dynamic Australian woman who was a pioneer of children’s literature. Sadly I never met Nance Donkin, however I know that, amongst many other things, she worked tirelessly to enable children’s authors to visit regional schools, a cause very dear to my heart. Each year I travel to remote communities across Australia, reading stories and facilitating workshops for hundreds of students. I love quirky outback stories and now serve as Remote Regions Advisor for the WA branch of my current tribe, the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators. Now, when I visit students across WA and beyond, I will think fondly of Nance and her important work in promoting regional school visits.

I would like to thank my peers, the family of Nance Donkin, the judges and all who facilitate this prestigious award which inspires and validates children’s literature. Thank you also to my agent, Clive Newman and publishers, Fremantle Press, Walker Books, Cengage Learning and Penguin Random House for publishing my nineteen books to date.  I hope there will be many more.

Writing can be a solitary and sometimes frustrating occupation. Moments like this make the months of writing, researching and editing worthwhile. I am deeply humbled to receive the Nance Donkin Award. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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