Short story com­pe­ti­tion win a sur­prise for au­thor

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

Med­i­cal sci­ence and cre­ative writ­ing might not seem like a nat­u­ral fit but it works for Hi­mali McInnes.

The GP has re­ceived first prize in the New Zealand So­ci­ety of Au­thors Asian Short Story Com­pe­ti­tion.

Dr McInnes was born in Sri Lanka and moved to New Zealand as a teenager. The 2500 word short story, Your Place, draws in­spi­ra­tion from her cul­tural back­ground.

It’s set in a block of coun­cil flats on Do­min­ion Rd and the two pro­tag­o­nists are Sri Lankan women who both lost fam­ily in the 30-year civil war in that coun­try.

De­spite the fact one woman is Sin­halese and Catholic and the other is Ta­mal and Hindu they dis- cover they have a lot more in com­mon than they think.

‘‘The idea is not only to make people aware of the po­lit­i­cal con­text but also to show that there are more sim­i­lar­i­ties than dif­fer­ences among us as people,’’ the Three Kings res­i­dent says.

Tak­ing out first prize came as quite a sur­prise.

‘‘I didn’t quite be­lieve it. I kept ex­pect­ing some­one to ring back and say they had made a mis­take.’’

Com­pe­ti­tion judg­ing panel con­vener Lee Mur­ray says her en­try stood out.

‘‘It is a beau­ti­ful, en­gag­ing provoca­tive story on the themes of prej­u­dice and for­give­ness. It is well-struc­tured, subtly-told and pop­u­lated with rounded and be­liev­able char­ac­ters.’’

Dr McInnes started writ­ing sto­ries in her teens.

But it wasn’t un­til she at­tended some writ­ing cour­ses that she started to think of her­self as a writer.

Last year she took part in a free writ­ing course for mi­grant women run by au­thor Renee Liang.

In 2012 she also signed up for an eight-week in­tro­duc­tory cre­ative writ­ing course at The Cre­ative Hub. Both cour­ses en­cour­aged her to write but that re­quires per­sis­tence, she says.

Dr Hi­mali was pre­sented with a $1000 cheque at the NZSA Asian Short Story Awards Cer­e­mony.


Sur­prise win: Three Kings res­i­dent Hi­mali McInnes wins the NZSA Asian Short Story Com­pe­ti­tion.

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