2015 Ampersand Prize winner
The 2015 Ampersand Prize was the biggest yet for Hardie Grant Egmont – we received 250 YA and MG submissions from authors all around Australia and New Zealand, covering everything from fantasy and queer contemporary drama to humour and verse novels. Since submissions closed in mid-September, it's been a wonderful process of reading, debating and championing as we refine our shortlist and settle on our winner – a process that is necessarily long to do justice to all the writers who put their work out there, and absolutely worthwhile.
Choosing this year's Ampersand Prize winner was both difficult and very easy; among the many incredible submissions we received, one novel stood out as highly accomplished, excitingly original and ready for publication. As such, HGE is delighted to award the 2015 Ampersand Prize to YA writer Calanthe Black for her as-yet-untitled sci-fi thriller, which will be published in September 2016.
Set in deep space and pitched as The Knife of Never Letting Go meets Homeland, this debut novel follows a 15-year-old stowaway as she is caught in a war between humanity and a brutal alien race of 'crowpeople'. 'Calanthe’s novel is deeply strange, magnetic and original – it’s like nothing we've ever read before,' says Commissioning Editor Marisa Pintado. 'It's an electrifying journey into deep space, yet remains completely grounded. It's brilliant and masterful!'
Calanthe Black lives in Melbourne with her family, and divides her time between writing, teaching and working with gifted children. She is delighted at being awarded the 2015 prize. 'I could barely speak when Marisa told me about the Ampersand Prize over the phone,' she says. 'I had decided to write for fun, for myself for a while, to experiment and to learn without worrying about the marketplace, and the results gave me a whole new excitement about my progress as a writer. But I was still not expecting the level of enthusiasm HGE have shown towards my novel – I’m so grateful for this opportunity.’
Exciting times! To everyone who submitted to the Ampersand Prize this year, thank you and congratulations on being brave enough to share your work. Submissions for the 2016 Ampersand Prize will be open from 1–14 September next year. A happy summer to you all, and we look forward to hearing from you in 2016.
The Ampersand team