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After much reading and much discussion, we are delighted to announce the winner of The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing in 2009.

And the winner is…

Leanne Hall for This Is Shyness.

We are very excited about Leanne’s compelling novel about two teenagers finding their place in a world that is increasingly difficult to understand. This is Shyness follows Wolfboy and Wildgirl through one night in Shyness, a city where the sun never rises. On a quest to retrieve a stolen card, they confront the menacing Kidds and push themselves to the boundaries of their fears as they help each other face the pain in their lives. It’s a highly original story from an exciting new talent.

Congratulations again to Leanne, from all of us at Text.

Text would like to thank all those who entered the competition and to congratulate the shortlisted writers. The standard of entries was extremely high. Please watch our website for details of the 2010 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. And keep writing!

We hope you have been following the success of last year’s winner
The Billionaire’s Curse, which is on sale now. The rights have already been sold into five territories, and author Richard Newsome is appearing at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Q and A with Leanne Hall

Text: Hi Leanne, congratulations on winning The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Can you tell us your reaction when you received the call?

Leanne: I was pretty shocked when I received the phone call, and it’s entirely possible I was completely incoherent for a few hours afterwards. I’ve long admired the work that Text Publishing does, so I’m really thrilled to win this prize. After getting off the phone I took myself on a long walk through the streets of Melbourne to calm down.

Text: Where did the inspiration for This Is Shyness grow from? Has it been a long process?

Leanne: This Is Shyness began with the two main characters names, Wolfboy and Wildgirl. I was researching the Swedish botanist Linnaeus for a short story, when I came across a curious chart. Linnaeus had categorised humans in a top-to-bottom hierarchy (in a fairly racist fashion, I might add!), but what was most fascinating was his inclusion of mythical beings on the bottom rungs – including the mysterious wolfboys and wildgirls.

The next step was to ask myself, where would I find characters with these names? It seemed to me that the logical answer was: a town that has lived in total darkness for many years. Writing the manuscript has been a long process, and I have been on a steep learning curve as it’s my first full-length finished work. All in all, I’d say the book took me nearly three years to write.

Text: Writing can be a very solitary process. What inspires you to step back from the world and put pen to paper?

Leanne: Ever since I learnt to read and write at age five I have amused myself by creating characters and stories. I have dozens of notebooks from my childhood filled with drawings and stories, and I haven’t really stopped since! I write because I don’t know how to not write.

Text: Who are your favourite writers? Do you find these writers infusing your own work?

Leanne: My passion lies with young adult fiction, so a lot of my favourite writers write for this audience. I greatly admire the work of Meg Rosoff, Phillip Pullman, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins, Susan Cooper, Simmone Howell, Margo Lanagan, and John Green, to name just a few.

When it comes to writers that write predominantly for adults, some of my favourites are Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, Haruki Murakami, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Orhan Pamuk, Margaret Atwood and Hanif Kureishi.

One of the difficulties as a novice writer is the process of finding your own voice. It’s always a temptation to be influenced too much by the writers you admire, but it’s a real pleasure when you finally feel your own voice beginning to emerge.

Text: And what do you do when you’re not writing? How does a budding author earn a crust?

Leanne: I work as a children’s specialist in a very busy independent bookstore. It’s the ideal job for me as I get to look at and talk about books all day long! It’s a bit corny to say so, but I get a great deal of satisfaction in matching the right book to the right kid or teenager. I also like being on my feet serving customers and lugging around boxes of books, as it makes it easier to sit at my desk and be still when it’s time to write.

… … … … … …


Leanne Hall was born in Melbourne and has lived there most of her life. She completed an Arts/Law degree, which at the very least prepared her for a future of long hours spent at a desk reading small print, and a graduate diploma in publishing and editing.

Leanne began her writing career with short stories, some of which have been published in Sleepers Almanac, Meanjin and Best Australian Stories. She has resolutely resisted a sensible career trajectory, and has worked in the arts and educational publishing, in between long rambling jaunts overseas.

Leanne currently works part-time as a children’s specialist in an independent bookstore, a job that fuels her passion for books and allows her time to write. She enjoyed writing her first novel so much she already has the next one in the works.


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