Ray Koppe Young Writers' Residency Winner 2016

The ASA is delighted to announce the results of the Ray Koppe Young Writers’ Residency for 2016. Applications came from all over Australia and the wide range of submissions of works-in-progress makes it clear that young writers are professionally and successfully honing their ideas and skills.

The 2016 Residency was awarded to Nick Couldwell for his novel, "Calluses".

Nick Couldwell

The story revolves around a strained relationship between father and son. Set in the small towns of East Coast Australia, the protagonist must navigate a treacherous course through family secrets and grief in search of purpose and resolve. This is the story of a child’s coming of age in a world where human connection is becoming increasingly distant, especially in the claustrophobic small town communities in which damaged souls reside.

Comments from the assessors, Linsay Knight and Joel Naoum:

"What an interesting spread of high-standard work we were privileged to read this year: adult fiction and non-fiction featured strongly alongside vibrant YA fiction and fantasy entries. Individual voices were fearless in their desire to share their stories and entrants were keen to experiment with subject matter and point of view. 

"However, although the field was powerful, choosing a winner was a given as both judges homed in on one particular story that demanded to be heard. Nick Couldwell's 'Calluses' is an intriguing adult fiction coming-of-age story."

The judges also shortlisted Bri Lee, Jemma Galindo and Vanessa Fairbrother.

The annual Ray Koppe Young Writers’ Residency offers an unpublished writer under 30 years of age a week’s stay at Varuna, The Writers’ House in Katoomba NSW. The recipient is provided with a private working space to further develop a work-in-progress, as well as accommodation and meals. The Residency was established by the Koppe family as a tribute to their mother, Ray Koppe. Ray, who for many years managed the business affairs of the ASA, was always passionately interested in and supportive of young writers. 

Assessor comments

'Calluses' by Nick Couldwell (winner)

In the tradition of Australian literary classics, this coming of age story probes at the darkness beneath a seemingly mundane suburban world. The voice is so beguiling and the writing so tight the reader is left eager to see more. This work's vivid sense of place and time made us feel as if we were right there with the characters. Convinced we were in the presence of a big talent, we could not go past this writer.

'Eggshell Skull' by Bri Lee (shortlist)

'Eggshell Skull' by Bri Lee is the personal exploration of a young woman's interaction with the legal system on multiple levels. The subject matter is handled delicately, viewed through the lens of adult knowledge and understanding of the law. The author is keen to analyse past events forensically, if possible. A laudable enterprise indeed.

'Second Chances' by Jemma Galindo (shortlist)

'Second Chances' is written in the style of John Flanagan and similar creators of fantasy worlds. But the author has a satisfying individual take on this popular subject matter. The strong, well-done dialogue drives the storytelling in a particularly satisfying way. Very well done!

'Rising Up' by Vanessa Fairbrother

'Rising Up' is told in the first person and the fantasy world created is grounded firmly in the real world. The concept of the dead coming back to help the living follows in the footsteps of a popular YA tradition but the author makes the form her own. 

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