MANY FINE ENTRIES TESTED THE JUDGES, BUT THE $5000 PRIZE HAS BEEN AWARDED.
Her childhood spent on a sheep property in northern Victoria stood Donna Coutts in good stead when she wrote this year’s winning story, Flood. “I’ve never entered a short story competition before — this is the first time I’ve written fiction in my adult life,” explains Donna, a journalist who has worked on Melbourne’s Herald Sun. This mother of four decided to enter the competition after her youngest child, Harry, started school earlier this year. “With four young children, our house is always very busy so it was a good opportunity to do something when he went to school,” she says. Speaking of her childhood experience of rural floods, Donna says, “Natural disasters don’t happen in a vacuum... And a crisis, whether it’s a natural disaster or something more domestic in scale, can bring out the best in people.” The judging process once again benefited from the expert help of Cate Kennedy, whose latest short story collection is Like A House On Fire (Scribe Publications, $27.99). “I liked the tone and compression of Flood — and that dead-on accuracy of how life in a country town works,” Cate says.