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2024 EWB Literary Awards

 

Ethel Webb Bundell Short Story Awards 2024

 

The Presentations for the Winning entries

of the Ethel Webb Bundell Literary Awards

was held on 18th June 2024 at Citiplace Community Centre.

 

The results are:

First   -    Tree Change     by Averil Robertson. 

Second    –    Run            by Jodie Kewley.   

Third   –   Practising for Antarctica   by Madeline Tingey.   .

Highly Commended –

This Last Migration   by Andrea McMahon    

A Butterfly   by Janeen Samuel   

Commended

Golden Opportunity by Andrea Pavleka

Fallout  by Jane Downing

 

Congratulations to you all on the very high quality of your writing.

The Judge's Report is below:

The Ethel Webb Bundell Literary Award for Short Story 2024.

I acknowledge we are meeting on the unceded land of the Wadjuk People of the Noongar Nation, and I would like to pay my respects to Elders, past and present.

Thank you to the Society of Women Writers, WA for inviting me to judge the Ethel Webb Bundell Short Story Prize. Writing prizes are one of the cornerstones of a vibrant writing community. I read 72 entries in a blind judging process for the competition. In reading through the entries for the prize, I was looking not simply for a good story, well told, but originality, a freshness of expression, a story that lingered, after it was finished.  

 I read each entry at least once and judged each one on quality, originality and engagement. From that process I selected around twenty stories. Each of these I read several times to come up with a shortlist. I discarded entries that relied too much on cliché or punchlines, some began well but lost focus in the middle or towards the end, some were stories I didn’t feel told me anything unexpected or new, many needed more action, some felt more like excerpts from a longer work. There were several I felt were good stories that needed one or two more drafts to be ready.

The judging process becomes increasingly subjective as it progresses, so I tried to be conscious of craft as well as story when it came to choosing the winners. I found it very hard to decide particularly when it came to the first and second place and changed my mind several times. A different judge may well have made a different decision. Each of the selected stories revealed something new in subsequent readings.

There were not many entries which took advantage of the form to experiment with style, and the few that did were fresh and interesting. The winning stories all featured writing that was assured, polished and crisp. They entertained. They revealed new depths with each reading. I loved the sense of place in many of these stories, including some that weren’t shortlisted, but used evocative language and detailed settings, I found these so engaging. The winning stories were also well-edited, not such a romantic part of the writing process but it set the winners apart. Each author served the story first and foremost, in that voice, plot, setting, pace, were all consistent and tightly executed.

First - Tree Change:     by Averil Robertson.  This speculative fiction story was a standout in its originality and fresh take on the potentially well-worn themes of climate change and a pandemic. The characters and setting were vivid, the dialogue was beautifully executed. I appreciated that the writer took advantage of the short story form to make use of present tense, which can be so tricky to maintain in longer prose. It paid off, it added a sense of immediacy and tension that brought this story alive.

Second – Run:   by Jodie Kewley.   An original and engaging story, with excellent pace, examining the shifting relationship between two brothers, finely drawn characters with voices that rang true. This author has a sharp eye for observation, this is natural storytelling at its best, it was deceptively easy to read, and it only got better each time. It felt like this story could be developed into a longer work, but at no stage did it feel like I was reading an excerpt, the story as a standalone was satisfying and complete.

Third – Practising for Antarctica:      by Madeline Tingey.   Well-executed, sharp observation, and older characters with depth. The plot was unexpected, and I particularly appreciated the restraint the author showed in landing the ending so neatly, without heavy handed exposition. Lovely work.

Highly Commended –

This Last Migration:   by Andrea McMahon    A distant daughter is called reluctantly home to care for her mother who is suffering from dementia. Lovely use of metaphor and a moving story well told, with memorable characters.

A Butterfly:   by Janeen Samuel     A story which examines the evolution of female friendship over many years, the author could so easily have slipped into sentimentality but at no time did it rely on cliché. An evocative piece, beautifully crafted.

Commended

Golden Opportunity by Andrea Pavleka

Fallout  by Jane Downing