Putting pen to pa­per

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - by KYLIE WIL­SON

EVEN as a wide eyed preschooler, Wan­garatta teenager Steph Grant had an in­tense fas­ci­na­tion with books, sto­ries and cre­at­ing her own nar­ra­tive.

She re­calls be­ing read fairy­tales and then spend­ing time imag­in­ing her own spin on them, even be­fore she started school.

At the age of about five or six, she got busy cre­at­ing her own book about a girl whose hair was turned to straw, even sta­pling it to­ge­her and cre­at­ing the il­lus­tra­tions.

It is a pas­sion that has be­come more pow­er­ful than ever and has led to her be­ing an ac­tive mem­ber of Wan­garatta High School’s Scrib­blers Club, as well as be­ing one of the many young lo­cals who have en­tered the Wan­garatta Young Writ­ers’ Award in the forth­com­ing Wang Lit Fest.

The award has seen en­tries flood­ing in from schools across the district.

“It’s re­ally good they’re get­ting kids in­volved and en­cour­ag­ing that kind of in­ter­est,” said Steph, who loves spend­ing time with like minded friends as part of Scrib­blers - a long stand­ing group at the school which brings to­gether keen read­ers and writ­ers alike.

Her per­sonal favourite books are gen­er­ally fan­tasy nov­els with strong so­cial is­sue-ori­ented themes, with au­thor Jackie French and JK Rowl­ing’s Harry Pot­ter se­ries be­ing among her favourites, and Steph said her own sto­ries in­cluded se­ri­ous themes from an early age. “I’ve got a lot of ideas,” she said. “I’ve de­vel­oped quite a few ideas for a long time.”

Now in year eight, she is a pro­lific short story writer, has won a hand­ful of com­pe­ti­tions and been pub­lished in mag­a­zines, and said she is keen to keep de­vel­op­ing her sto­ries and even write a novel some­day.

Steph ex­plained she en­joyed the power and con­trol au­thors have in cre­at­ing their own worlds.

“I love be­ing able to cre­ate some­one, cre­ate a world and cre­ate a story,” she said.

“To make other peo­ple love the story as well, that’s the best feel­ing.”

Steph is equally pas­sion­ate about read­ing, lov­ing “be­ing sucked into these en­tire new di­men­sions, and new re­al­i­ties, and just be­ing able to be part of an­other world”.

Steph said she is ex­cited to par­tic­i­pate in the Wang Lit Fest this year, say­ing it was good to see a lit­er­a­ture based fes­ti­val lo­cally.

“It’ll be great to have a whole fes­ti­val,” she said, adding that she is also keen for the fes­ti­val’s book fair and au­thor ses­sions.

“I want to get tips from peo­ple who’ve been through the process.

“It’s re­ally good that they’re get­ting kids in­volved and en­cour­ag­ing that kind of in­ter­est.”

Plenty of en­tries for the Wan­garatta Young Writ­ers’ Award have also flooded in from many small schools in the re­gion, in­clud­ing Myrrhee Pri­mary School.

The school’s prin­ci­pal, Ash Gra­ham, said the school has a strong cul­ture of cre­ative writ­ing, and he said his stu­dents have re­ally em­braced the chal­lenges of pre­par­ing writ­ten pieces for the award, with most of the chil­dren in the school pre­par­ing pieces to be judged.

“It seems some in­ter­est­ing sto­ries have come out of it,” he said.

“It’s nice to have an award recog­nis­ing aca­demic ex­cel­lence and cre­ative abil­i­ties,” Ash said.

He praised the or­gan­is­ing team for their ef­forts in putting to­gether the Wang Lit Fest, say­ing it was a pos­i­tive thing for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“It shows the com­mu­nity re­gards lit­er­a­ture highly,” Ash said.

The Wan­garatta Young Writ­ers’ Award is part of the forth­com­ing Wang Lit Fest, which will take place in Wan­garatta on June 9-10 and which in­cludes a host of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing a book fair, work­shops and more.

Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion on the fes­ti­val is avail­able on wan­glit­fest. com.au.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

YOUNG WORDSMITH: Wan­garatta High School stu­dent Steph Grant has been an avid reader and writer and is among the lo­cal young­sters en­ter­ing the Young Writ­ers Award at the up­com­ing Wang Lit Fest.

SCRIB­BLING AWAY: Myrrhee Pri­mary School stu­dent An­drew Groves is among the keen young scribes from that school en­ter­ing the Wang Lit Fest’s Young Writ­ers Award.

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