The Deborah Cass Prize for Writing brought me three main benefits:
- Three distinguished judges – Alice Pung, Christos Tsiolkas and Tony Ayres – liked my writing and gave me a dose of courage with which to persevere – courage and perseverance, something every writer needs.
- The prize money helped take me to San Ginese in Tuscany, the town where the Tales are set, to see again the characters I am writing about in the place where they live. This trip also triggered an emotionally satisfying end to the book, but only after I returned to Australia and had thought about it for a long time.
- The Deborah Cass Prize also provided a mentor, Antoni Jach, who offered a guiding hand and worked with me at the problem solving that I needed to do.
The Prize has been a rich treasure trove of support for my writing and as it moves into its second year I cannot help but note its strength, with Melanie Cheng, who was shortlisted for the first Deborah Cass Prize, this year winning the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Prize.
To finish on a small personal note … When Southerly published another one of my Tales from San Ginese this year I was glad to be able to promote the Deborah Cass Prize for Writing by adding it to my bio.