2018

From left to right - Kelly Canby, Margaret Allen, Renee Pettitt-Schipp, Kirli Saunders, Hon David Templeman, AJ Betts — at State Library of Western Australia.

The winners of the 2018 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced at the State Library of Western Australia on Friday 26 July 2019. Honourable David Templeman Minister for Culture and the Arts presented the Awards and also launched the Library’s sixth Disrupted Festival of Ideas.

“I am particularly pleased that these Awards focus on promoting Western Australian writers.  Making a living writing is not easy and it is important to promote our writers, because our stories are important,” the Minister said.

“It is fitting that the Awards are held in the State Library as it is a place of learning, a place where literature and writing is celebrated,” he said.

The Premier’s Book Awards are Western Australia’s peak awards for writers and focus on supporting Western Australian writers with a major Fellowship awarded for the first time. At $60,000 the Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship is one of the most valuable awards in Australian arts.

These awards have been made available by the Western Australian Government and are managed by the State Library of Western Australia.

Show Winners / Short List

The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and YA Writing

Mother Speaks by Kiri Saunders
Mother Speaks by Kirli Saunders

Mother Speaks is a lovely, lyrical exploration of the wisdom of the earth. The gentle rhythm of the verse speaks to the patterns and cycles of the nature, and every line holds deep meaning that can be revisited many times over – this a story that will delight adults and children alike.

Coincidence by Paul Callaghan
Coincidence by Paul Callaghan

Coincidence is a beautiful exploration of Aboriginal cultural values and the power of ancient knowledges in the present day. The Elder characters in the novel are particularly well drawn, depicted with a warmth, depth and humour that leaps off the page and draws the reader in their lives from the outset of the book.

Tracks of the Missing by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler
Tracks of the Missing by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

Tracks of the Missing is a suspenseful crime thriller that draws the reader in from the first pages and never lets go. The tension steadily escalates as events unfold and the text becomes richer with layers of meaning that build to a surprising climax that weaves together past, present and future.

Emerging Writer

The Sky Runs Right Through Us by Reneé Pettitt-Schipp
The Sky Runs Right Through Us by Reneé Pettitt-Schipp

Published by UWA Publishing, 2018

In this evocative, memorable collection of poems, Pettitt-Schipp writes of experiences that are both personal and political. Formally diverse, tough-minded but always accessible, the poetry addresses issues ranging from Australia’s contemporary treatment of asylum seekers to the poet’s coming to terms with her father’s decline and death, to her appreciation of the natural environments which in which the poetry is set.

If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman
if i tell you by Alicia Tuckerman

Published by Pantera Press, 2018

A well-balanced work of Young Adult fiction that sensitively and effectively addresses a range of issues important to readers of the demographic and beyond. Protagonist Alex is living in a small town in the Central West of WA when the arrival of a new girl and her sophisticated family causes her to question her sexuality, her friendships and, ultimately, her place in the world. As a narrator Alex has a strong and appealing voice, and her character arc is handled with great affection and care.

The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan 
The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan 

Published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2018

This thrilling example of crime fiction follows Irish detective Cormac Reilly as a case from the beginning of his career resurfaces twenty years later. As Detective Reilly investigates, issues of poverty, addiction, and child abuse evolve into an even more sinister situation. Featuring absorbing characters and deftly handled shifts of point of view, the novel is tightly structured, well-paced, and resplendent with the kinds of twists expected by readers of the genre.

The Wounded Sinner by Gus Henderson
The Wounded Sinner by Gus Henderson

Published by Magabala Books, 2018

In this original and freewheeling novel, father-of-five Matthew drives to Perth to spend time with his ageing father, leaving his Aboriginal partner Jeanie back in Leonora with their young children. Eldest child Jaylene helps her mother, but the young teenager’s developing womanhood creates a distance between the two that causes problems when Jaylene becomes the focus of a lecherous neighbour. The writing is at the same time lyrical and unforgiving, displaying the characters, their speech and the landscape in starkly realistic ways.

You Belong Here by Laurie Steed
You Belong Here by Laurie Steed

Published by Margaret River Press, 2018

Combining humour and pathos, Steed examines the suburban realities of the life of a couple who marry as teenagers. The novel’s episodic structure conveys both the highs and lows this growing family faces as it gradually self-destructs, then recovers in a different form. As the three children become adults, they carry the legacy of their parents’ volatile relationship, yet each also achieves a kind of equilibrium according to their differing abilities. Nicely pitched portrayal of Australian domestic life from the early 1970s to a contemporary time.

Writing for Children

The Hole Story by Kelly Canby​
The Hole Story by Kelly Canby​

Published by Fremantle Press, 2018.

Kelly Canby’s distinctively individual illustration style underpins a taut, cleverly conceptualised story with layers of playfulness and wisdom. The Hole Story is a memorable picture book that will intrigue children while also engaging those adults who connect them with it.

Grandpa, Me and Poetry written by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Craig Smith
Grandpa, Me and Poetry written by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Craig Smith

Published by Scholastic Australia

While using prose, this book foregrounds poetry as a means of personal expression. A sensitive depiction of family dynamics and convincing dialogue carry the plot forward at a lively pace, with twists and turns making it both sad and funny. Morgan achieves balance between the main character’s cheekiness and compliance with school requirements, and Smith’s illustrations add to the movement and interest.

The Happiness Box written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Andrew McLean
The Happiness Box written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Andrew McLean

Published by Walker Books Australia

Greenwood’s unadorned prose turns a bleak story of deprivation and danger into one of hope and courage in the face of adversity. This is a fine work of narrative non-fiction bringing a remarkable Australian story to the page, with McLean’s suitably sombre illustrations giving weight to the emotions evoked by the text.

How to Win a Nobel Prize co-authored by Barry Marshall and Lorna Hendry, with illustrations by Bernard Caleo
How to Win a Nobel Prize co-authored by Barry Marshall and Lorna Hendry, with illustrations by Bernard Caleo

Published by Piccolo Nero, Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd

In this book, the novel idea of time travelling to chat with a secret society of Nobel Prize winners proves an engaging way of delivering information about science, medicine and the academic endeavour of great scientists, with supplementary material and experiments adding to the mix.

Puddle Hunters by written by Kirsty Murray and illustrated by Karen Blair
Puddle Hunters by written by Kirsty Murray and illustrated by Karen Blair

Published by Allen & Unwin

A call to embrace simple pleasures underpins this story, and Murray’s polished text is supported by Karen Blair’s charming illustrations echoing the classic picture books of yesteryear. While there is a timeless quality to this book, it also serves as a reminder that there is much more to life than screen time.

Western Australian Writer's Fellowship

AJ Betts
A.J. Betts

A.J. Bett’s Young Adult novel will focus on a teenage band trying to record a song to enter the Triple J ‘Unearthed High’ Competition. The story will explore the pressures that year 12 students experience when they don’t feel ready for post-school life, and address some of the issues that concern this age group, including friendship, honesty, courage and identity.

Amanda Curtin
Amanda Curtin

Amanda Curtin’s project is a work of historical fiction set in gold-rush Western Australia in the 1890s. It is based partly on the life of Frederick Vosper—a radical newspaper editor and parliamentarian who was both a reformist and racist. The novel will examine his life on the goldfields and issues of the period—workers’ rights, social reform, racism, the place of women—all of which resonate strongly with those of today.

Madeleine Dickie
Madeleine Dickie

Madeleine Dickie’s proposed novel is ‘a dark surf noir crime thriller set in Mexico and Western Australia.’ The story of two brothers from the Ningaloo coast who go missing on a surf trip to Mexico. it is titled ‘Blow-ins or The Dead Chorizo Eater’ and will not shy away from ‘the uglier aspects of Australian Culture.’

Kylie Howarth
Kylie Howarth

Kylie Howarth’s project involves writing the third book and researching and writing the fourth book in the ‘Fish Kid’ children’s chapter book series, and writing a children’s picture book, ‘Chip’. The focus of the ‘Fish Kid’ books continues to be around environmental issues, with the fourth book being set in the Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia.

Craig Silvey
Craig Silvey

Craig Silvey’s novel ‘Honeybee’ will be narrated by a transgender teenager who meets an elderly man at a crucial moment in both their lives, resulting in a life-changing friendship. It will examine ‘cycles of poverty, toxic masculinity, teen suicide, addiction, and gender identity’.

Last updated on: 11 December 2019