Best Surprise of the Month

Lucy McKenzie Book CoverI wasn’t in Canberra to receive the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Book earlier this month. Many things kept me from going but not lack of desire. The Aurealis Award is a fabulous prize – an important award for fantasy, science fiction and speculative fiction that thinks outside the boundaries of space and time. This year’s shortlist was dauntingly impressive. Some of my favourite Australian authors of fantasy were featured on the list. I honestly thought that I didn’t have a hope against such a strong list.

So when Deb Stevens of Allen & Unwin asked me to provide her with an acceptance speech, just in case, I didn’t seriously believe that she would have the chance to read it out loud.

Here’s what Deb read out when The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie won the prize:

In a parallel universe, I am here tonight with you and I am amazed, honoured and very excited to accept this award. In that alternative reality I am squealing with glee so it’s probably just as well that Deb Stevens  is accepting on my behalf.

In the reality in which I’m currently trapped in suburban Melbourne, I will be both humbled and thrilled to discover I’ve been awarded this year’s Aurealis prize for children’s books when I spot the announcement on twitter, which I will be watching with passionate interest, rather than bated breath. I can honestly say I didn’t think I had a chance against such an outstanding shortlist.

I’m grateful to the organisers of the Aurealis awards and the judges for granting me this unexpected honour. I’d also like to thank Susannah Chambers and Sarah Brenan of Allen & Unwin for their editorial guidance and my aunts and great-aunts for the inspiration of their lives that spanned a century of change for young women. Time-slip is a genre that reminds you of the fragility and wonder of every moment of life. Though I cannot be here tonight, this moment, on this very special evening, is one that I will recreate in my imagination and for which I am enormously grateful. Thank you.

Kirsty Murray, April 5, 2014

 

Out of the Blue

Lucy McKenzie Book Cover

I wasn’t in Canberra on Saturday night to receive the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Book. Many things kept me from going but not lack of desire. The Aurealis Award is a fabulous prize – an important award for fantasy, science fiction and speculative fiction that thinks outside the boundaries of space and time. This year’s shortlist was dauntingly impressive. Some of my favourite Australian authors of fantasy were featured on the list. I honestly thought that I didn’t have a hope against such a strong list.

So when Deb Stevens of Allen & Unwin asked me to provide her with an acceptance speech, just in case, I didn’t seriously believe that she would have the chance to read it out loud.

Here’s what Deb read out when The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie won the prize:

In a parallel universe, I am here tonight with you and I am amazed, honoured and very excited to accept this award. In that alternative reality I am squealing with glee so it’s probably just as well that Deb Stevens  is accepting on my behalf.

In the reality in which I’m currently trapped in suburban Melbourne, I will be both humbled and thrilled to discover I’ve been awarded this year’s Aurealis prize for children’s books when I spot the announcement on twitter, which I will be watching with passionate interest, rather than bated breath. I can honestly say I didn’t think I had a chance against such an outstanding shortlist.

I’m grateful to the organisers of the Aurealis awards and the judges for granting me this unexpected honour. I’d also like to thank Susannah Chambers and Sarah Brenan of Allen & Unwin for their editorial guidance and my aunts and great-aunts for the inspiration of their lives that spanned a century of change for young women. Time-slip is a genre that reminds you of the fragility and wonder of every moment of life. Though I cannot be here tonight, this moment, on this very special evening, is one that I will recreate in my imagination and for which I am enormously grateful. Thank you.

Kirsty Murray, April 5, 2014

 

 

 

 

Slash and Burn

Manuscripts have seasons. The spring time blossom of first drafts, the long hot summers of rewriting, the autumn of copyediting, the neat pruning/proofreading of winter before the book reaches the printer.The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie is my tenth novel and I’m finally at the stage of marking up the proofs before it goes to press in a week or two. But sometimes, in Winter, you discover a random branch you should have pruned months earlier.My editor, Susannah Chambers, told me that Chapter 1 should go last year. Stubbornly, I hung onto it. After nine novels, I can find justification for anything and Chapter One fitted perfectly with many traditional ideas of how a story should be structured. But Susannah was right.

IMG_1383
In marking up this final version of the novel I saw it clear as day. The first chapter was superflous. This afternoon I transferred a stray 80 words of information from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 (The new Chapter 1) and deleted 900 words. It felt so good. The minute I hit delete and the words disappeared, I knew the novel was much better for the cut. It was a thrilling, absolutely satisfying moment. I also felt grateful that my editors encouraged me to be so bold despite the lateness of the hour. One of the nicest things about writing is learning to appreciate every aspect of the process. In the early days, I found editing difficult. Learning to trust your editor and your instincts means wrestling with both your prejudices and your manuscript. Though I spent the entire day agonising over 1,000 words, I left my desk feeling deeply satisfied that I’d lost most of Chapter 1. Every book deserves a new beginning.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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