Australasian literary prize celebrating historical fiction genre now with CYA category

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The ARA Historical Novel Prize is now the richest genre-based literary award in Australasia. The Historical Novel Society of Australasia (HNSA), in partnership with Australia’s leading essential building and infrastructure services provider ARA Group, has today announced the exciting expansion of the ARA Historical Novel Prize. The Prize will now incorporate a category for outstanding Children and Young Adult (CYA) literature.   

In just its second year of operation, the ARA Historical Novel Prize is now worth a total of $100,000 in prize monies. The Prize will award $50,000 to the Adult category winner, with an additional $5,000 to be awarded to each of the remaining two shortlisted authors. In the CYA category, the winner will receive $30,000, while the two short listers will receive $5,000 each.

Chair and Program Director of the Historical Novel Society Australasia Elisabeth Storrs said the ARA Historical Novel Prize is an excellent opportunity for writers to showcase their work in the increasingly popular genre of historical fiction.

“Last year, we received nearly 200 entries for the inaugural prize. These novels provided not only entertainment and escapism, but also enlightened readers on the richness of history. I am looking forward to exploring the bygone eras illuminated in the 2021 entries, particularly those submitted for our new CYA category.”

“Designed to give historical novelists the opportunity to be recognised in a class of their own, the ARA Historical Novel Prize is a true celebration of historical fiction, and a real opportunity to foster it on a grander scale, and encourage younger readers to embrace the genre,” said Storrs.

ARA Group Founder, Executive Chair and Managing Director — and patron of the arts — Edward Federman said he was determined to expand the prize funding to support more of Australasia’s most talented authors during a time of immense uncertainty in the industry.

“In its second year, we’re proud to not only continue, but amplify, the impact the ARA Historical Novel Prize will have on the literary community in Australia and New Zealand by rewarding a wider breadth of authors for their contributions to our society’s extraordinary library of published works,” he said. 

“As COVID-19 continues to affect author’s earnings, ARA Group is hopeful the launch of the new CYA category and additional funding for the ARA Historical Novel Prize will not only make a considerable difference to the lives of the winning authors, but also ensure the telling of history lives on.”

The judging panels consist of:

  • Adult Novels: Nicole Alexander (Chair), Carmel Bird and Roanna Gonsalves
  • CYA Novels: Paul McDonald (Chair), Thuy On and Catherine Mayo

The definition of the genre set for the prize will ensure a breadth of talented writers is eligible to enter. Historical fiction will be defined as a novel in which the majority of the narrative must have taken place at least 50 years before publication.

A range of sub-genres are eligible, including historical mystery, historical romance, alternate history, historical fantasy, multi-time, time-slip, and parallel narrative novels.

The judging criteria include depth of research, widespread reader appeal, with excellence in writing as the deciding factor. 

The ARA Historical Novel Prize is open to all authors who are citizens or residents of Australia or New Zealand. Authors, publishers, or agents may submit books in print or digital editions. Works must be published between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021 to be eligible. The history explored can be from any era or society across the world. The submission process will be administered by the HNSA’s partner, the New England Writers’ Centre.

Key dates:

  • Awards open: 9am (AEST) 14 April 2021
  • Awards close: 5pm (AEST) 14 June 2021
  • Longlist announced (nine books): 8 September 2021
  • Shortlist announced (three books): 22 September 2021
  • Winners announced: 22 October 2021

Winners will be announced at the HNSA biennial conference in October. For more information about the awards and to see last year’s winners, please visit the HNSA website.

The HNSA supports and promotes the writing, reading and publication of historical fiction across Australia and New Zealand. It is the third arm of the international Historical Novel Society.

The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible through the generous patronage of ARA Group. The ARA Group, and its Founder, Executive Chair and Managing Director Edward Federman, are committed to supporting the arts and literature. They do this in a number of ways – as a Principal Partner of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, as a Principal Partner of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, as a Principal Partner of the Monkey Baa Theatre, and as a sponsor of the Historical Novel Society Australia’s biennial conferences – and now as the sponsor of this very significant literary prize.

Media contact:

Sally Wood

0434 442 687

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