Winner of the 2016 Wollongong Writers Festival Short Story prize, Kay Sexton, had a few words of encouragement for this year’s entrants. She said that “winning last year’s award was a complete surprise – that story has been with me such a long time and felt like such a part of my life, that I almost didn’t enter it because it felt too autobiographical. Now it’s in print I’m delighted”. Although she admits that winning is more fun than not, she explained that her win last year has furthered her career. “Winning something ALWAYS furthers a writer’s career! Sometimes it’s the practical, tangible rewards like adding ‘award winning’ to your cv and sometimes it’s the intangible rewards – feeling vindicated in dealing with difficult subject matter, or being recognised for your mastery of your craft, or simply knowing that you had the guts to enter a contest and risk not winning. So, both practically and intangibly, I felt immensely rewarded to have won last year’s award”.
She encourages writers to get on board with the competition because “too many writers do the judges’ work for them and rule their own work ineligible – we all become better writers, and better people, by learning about ourselves and others through well-run competitive processes. Nothing hones a writer’s skill so much as the process of submitting work and I urge everybody to enter at least one writing contest this year”.
Kay has been published in over 70 anthologies and literary magazines. She says she is currently “fighting my way through the first draft of a dense historical novel so being able to switch my attention from the complexities of mid-Victorian society to the unforgiving requirements of short fiction is always a joy.”
Kay’s winning story for the 2016 Festival was titled ‘Offshore’.