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Writer wins prestigeous award

by Cameron Outridge

Maleny author Steven Lang has won the prestigious 2004 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. Mr Lang won $20,000 for “Best Unpublished Manuscript of an Emerging Queensland Author” for his novel An Accidental Terrorist.

Mr Lang works with his wife at Rosetta Books and has been a Lecturer and Tutor in Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) for the past five years. He has been writing for many years and has written several short stories, a play and a film script, but An Accidental Terrorist is his first novel.

Three and half years in the making, the novel is set in the early ‘80s at the back of Eden on the far south coast of New South Wales. “The Main character, Kelvin, becomes involved with a group of people who have moved to the wilderness to live the alternative lifestyle,’’ said Mr Lang.

“Wood chipping is going on all around them and they talk about taking direct action against it - but never get around to it. “One night, however, several of them do take some action, with unexpected consequences.” Mr Lang said background for the book was based on his knowledge of the New South Wales south coast area when he lived there during the 70s. “I’m very familiar with the area and I have a fondness for that part of the country. “But I have to stress this is not an autobiographical novel.”

The Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards are Australia’s richest and most prestigious. Mr Lang said the award was designed to help up and- coming writers get off the ground.
“Peter Beattie believes in writing. He believes a smart state should look after its writers,’’Mr Lang Said. “$20,000 means that in the second half of next year I can take six months off and write and take my career as a writer seriously.” Mr Lang said his book went through several draft stages before he decided on the manuscript.

“Telling a story is an art and the art is in part the process if withholding information from the reader,’’ he said. “The book is still in manuscript form. One of the nice things is that the Premier’s Department provides funds to University of Queensland Press to do a professional edit on the manuscript, something that a writer of my status wouldn’t normally get.”

The finished product will be launched in the first week of September next year at the time of the announcement of the next year’s awards short list. It will have an initial print run of 3-5000. Mr Lang said he appreciated the money but the real reward came from sharing his novel with readers.

“Writing is a very solitary activity and I’ve spent years in a room by myself writing this,’’ he said. “And after all that work, the real prize will be in people reading the novel.”

Steven Lang winner of this year’s Premier’s Literary Awards in the emerging writers category.

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.