Father of three Richard Newsome has taken out the inaugural Text Publishing Young Adult Writing Prize for his debut novel, The Billionaire’s Curse.
The prize, $10,000 and a publishing contract, was awarded on Saturday night as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. The competition had attracted 300 entries from Australia and New Zealand.
Michael Heyward, Publisher at Text, described The Billionaire’s Curse as a ‘brilliantly original whodunnit which is stylish, funny and very entertaining—and is going to appeal to a really broad spectrum of readers.’
In the novel, a teenager called Gerald finds his life turned upside down when his great aunt dies. She has made him sole beneficiary of her estate—worth 20 billion pounds! But Gerald soon learns that his great aunt was murdered, that he’s next on the killer’s list, and that a 2000-year-old mystery ties it all together.
Newsome, a 43-year-old from Brisbane, took the plunge and wrote his first novel while being a stay-at-home Dad to his three children. He began making up The Billionaire’s Curse ten years ago as a bedtime story for his children, but it was only when the family left the rat race of Sydney for Queensland that Newsome found the time to write the story down.
Newsome described himself as ‘in equal parts honoured, humbled and hung-over’. He credited the postal service for his win.
‘Like many first-time writers, I had serious doubts that anyone would want to read my efforts. I only sent the manuscript to Text Publishing two days before the close of entries, convinced it would end up as recycled landfill or propping up a wonky desk leg in the corner of the office. So thank you, Australia Post, for a job well done.’
Text will publish The Billionaire’s Curse in July next year.
Entries for the next Text Publishing Young Adult Writing Prize will open in May 2009 and the winner will be announced at the next Melbourne Writers Festival.