A fantasy comes true

A local writer’s greatest fantasy has become a reality with her debut novel receiving a nod of excellence from beloved British author Sir Terry Pratchett.

Burra resident Cate Whittle was shortlisted in April for the ‘Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now’ first novel award that is overseen by Sir Terry’s publishing house, Transworld.

Ms Whittle said she was “quite excited” for her novel, Shadows of Annwn, to receive one of six shortlist places among 500 entries from around the world.

“I received a phone call from Transworld one evening,” she said.

“At first I didn’t tell anyone because I couldn’t believe it was happening, but a friend got very excited for me and, even though I didn’t receive the award, I remain incredibly honoured to have been shortlisted.”

Ms Whittle travelled to London to hear the competition winner announced on May 31, where she had the opportunity to converse at length with the competition’s judging panelists – including Sir Terry himself, whose Discworld series she had “long been a fan of”.

“All the entrants had the chance to chat with him, but I was fortunate to enjoy a long extra chat during the course of the evening,” she said.

“I found him to be very friendly and interested, with a wide general knowledge and a professed love of Australia. I was thrilled to have the chance to converse with him.”

Shadows of Annwn, which Ms Whittle described as “a rite of passage story based around concepts and ideas drawn from Celtic mythology”, came together after a long process of refining.

“The original draft was put together over the course of about a year, but there have been many revisions as I have learned more about the craft of writing and as I have received encouragement and advice along with a few rejections from publishers,” she said.

“I completed a major rewrite … over the course of a few months maybe two years ago, before putting the story away to concentrate on other things.”

Ms Whittle, who has had several short stories published through the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, said she was drawn to write fantasy-style material because it “makes sense to write that which I enjoy reading”.

“I have always enjoyed writing – when other children drew, I played with words – but, after a false start in my early 20s, I started writing seriously when I decided to take some time off teaching when our third child was born,” she said.

“I entered some short story competitions that leant towards fantasy and enjoyed some early minor successes, and had a lot of fun at the same time.”

Ms Whittle said she had already commenced writing a follow-up to Shadows of Annwn, while she had received some promising news regarding her debut.

“I’ve been advised that Shadows has a real future – possibly marketed as a [young adult]/crossover novel – and that my next step should be to find a good agent, so that is what I will be concentrating on for now.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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