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The NSW Student Literary Awards brought together an author who graduated high school in 2001, a 2021 HSC student and an eight-year-old in Year 3 – to share stories about the thrill of having their writing published for the very first time.
Acclaimed author Julie Koh, who was featured in the Young Writers Showcase 20 years ago, shared her insights with 2021 HSC Young Writers Showcase talent Tabitha Sharp, from Engadine High School, and WriteOn winner Zoe White, from Camden South Public School.
Ms Koh, who attended MLC in Sydney, had her major work titled ‘Colin the Dog’s Fabulous Midnight Adventure and Another Story’, published in the inaugural Young Writers Showcase in 2001.
“The Showcase played a pivotal role in my decision to become a writer. Halfway through uni, I got a call from a filmmaker, Jiao Chen [Bullet Train], and he wanted to adapt my story which was published in the anthology. So we ended up making it,” said Ms Koh, who was awarded 2017 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist among other accolades.
“I finished uni and went on to become a corporate lawyer but I eventually quit that to focus on writing.”
Tabitha Sharp, 19, from Loftus, shares Ms Koh’s love of writing, as well as an ambition to make films. She is currently in her first year at UNSW Sydney, studying a double degree in Arts majoring in Film Studies and Creative Writing, along with a Media degree in Screen and Sound.
Ms Sharp’s major work from her HSC English Extension 2 course, a fictional work titled ‘Where history fails’, was an example of magical realism included in the anthology. Another 17 major works from English Extension 2 students across NSW were also published.
“Australia has a well-documented yet at times contested and suppressed history, in which lost children slip into history’s gaps and silences. My major work’s beginnings asked: ‘what happens when this myth meets the contemporary case of a missing child?’,” Tabitha explains in the anthology.
Zoe White, 8, sought Ms Koh’s advice on inspirational settings for creating the best, most imaginative stories. While writing and spelling are her favourites activities at school, she hopes to follow in the footsteps of both of her parents.
“I want to be a teacher because I can teach people writing and different ways how to do it,” said Zoe, from Camden Park in Sydney’s south-west.
Ms Koh said the awards were a great opportunity for young literary talent: “It’s really exciting to be able to meet these young writers. The generation coming through have a lot of interesting perspectives on the world, a lot of different voices.”
Read more about the NSW Student Literary Awards.
Purchase a copy of the anthologies from the NESA Shop.