Win­ner’s cir­cle

Country Style - - SHORT STORY -

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.

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