Julian Cowan Youth Award, 2016

WINNER (age 14)

The Julian Cowan Youth Award in the Peter Cowan 600 Word Short Story Competition for Seven Seconds.

This award was announced in Perth and because I live in Melbourne, I couldn’t attend.

What the judge said: “. . . the winning story this year was something else: clever, risky, and willing to sit in the messiness of life and all its events. The winner this year was Abigail Strangward, from … Victoria, with her story, ‘Seven Seconds.

Strangward’s story skilfully breaks down memory into seven seconds, the amount of brain activity that’s left after the heart stops. Here the heart stopping is a symbol, a potent metaphor for love, and it’s in her recreation of love’s moments that the author excels. In point, I have read hundreds of short stories about romantic love, and yet I have never read one structured quite like ‘Seven Seconds’ or one as viscerally charged.

In Strangward, I found a writer who either did her revisions or, if she didn’t, then she’s unnaturally gifted. Whatever the case, she has a knack for engaging, memorable storytelling, and I felt blessed to have read her story.”

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