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  • Jenna Heller

YA manuscript shortlisted for the TEXT PRIZE!

Updated: May 13, 2019

My YA manuscript, Year of the Hawk, has been shortlisted for the 2019 Text Prize and I am absolutely over the moon! You can read the full press release and meet the other authors on Text Publishing's website.


Year of the Hawk is a story about thirteen-year-old Taryn who is nursing an injured hawk when she meets Nicky, a girl who loves the outdoors as much as Taryn does. They become fast friends and it’s not long before their friendship blossoms into something more – something neither girl is ready for. A coming of age story about a girl seeking acceptance and belonging while navigating changing friendships, rocky split-family dynamics, and preparing a hawk for release back into the wild. 


This novel got its start off the back of a simple classroom activity back in late 2010 while I was attending the Hagley Writers' Institute. You know the one where you write for 2 minutes then pass the paper to the person to your right and continue the story? I took my first 2 minutes of writing and thought, I think this is the start of the novel I want to write.


I wrote the first draft over the course of 2010-2011 and then began the long and painstaking process of rewriting and rewriting for the next 7 years in the 30-45 minutes every day before work and the occasional annual leave day for an extended stretch of focused work. I had the manuscript assessed by Anna Mackenzie back in 2017 and she picked up on everything that I thought I could get away with (who was I kidding!). So I knuckled down and did another serious rewrite and ruthless edit and it's a much better story because of it. (Thank you, Anna and the New Zealand Society of Authors for making the manuscript assessment available to me.)


And here we are today. Out of nearly 300 YA and for children manuscripts, mine has been shortlisted for the 2019 Text Prize! I am also the only NZ writer on the list. The overall winner will be announced next Wednesday night at an event in Melbourne, Australia. Although I know that four of us will be disappointed next week, because there can only be one overall winner, I also know that being shortlisted for this particular prize is a massive achievement -- and it will hopefully, ultimately, help me and the other shortlisted authors find publishers for our stories.


I'd be lying, though, if I didn't really, really, really hope that Text chooses mine! I'd love to work with them to put Year of the Hawk into the hands of readers around Australia, New Zealand, and further afield. Fingers crossed!


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