Travel book of the year – a wonderful read!

Press release from Canterbury, New Zealand Society of Authors: from chair Heather Hapeta

Christchurch author Jane Carswell won the top prize at the eighth annual Whitcoulls Travcom Travel Book of the Year Award for Under the Huang Jiao Tree – Two Journeys in China (Transit Lounge Publishing).  Carswell picked up $2,000 cash plus $500 in book vouchers from Whitcoulls.  Auckland writer Justin Brown received runner-up prize of $500 in Whitcoulls vouchers for Bowling Through India – Five Kiwi Blokes Take on India at Cricket (Random House New Zealand).

The Whitcoulls Travcom Travel Book of the Year Award was judged by Owen Scott, Karen Goa and John McCrystal. Owen is an author, journalist and editor. An Island Calling, the film based on his book Deep Beyond the Reef won the 2008 Qantas Award for Best Documentary. Karen is an award-winning freelance travel writer and a previous finalist in the Whitcoulls Travcom Travel Book Awards, and John is a Wellington-based freelance writer and photographer with twenty non-fiction titles published, and in 2008 was Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the year.

Jane Carswell’s highly personal Under the Huang Jiao Tree – two journeys in China was the unanimous winner, according to chief judge Owen Scott.

“Once again the books and stories were compelling and original in their very different ways – often surprisingly so,” said Scott. “The range of entries was incredibly varied.  The honours, though, went to two books with that little something extra, elevating them beyond mere storytelling and above their competitors. They could not have been more different from each other. One has you reaching for tissues, the other for smelling salts and Imodium!”

Jane told me (Heather Hapeta) how the New Zealand Society of Authors helped her.

“When I found a publisher for my first book, I thought my work was done. Over to him now, I thought, sighing happily as I dusted off my desk. I imagined all the books I’d read, now that the MS was someone else’s worry. For so long I’d had to keep my eyes fixed on that stumbling, lurching— and often sulking—offspring.

It was suggested that I apply for NZSA membership and they made it clear that the NZSA could help me, not only with my contract, but with all my other needs as a writer.  And not only could the NZSA help me, it seemed that it wanted to.

Local Christchurch members encouraged me to respect my own part in the process. Rookie writer I might be, but I was entitled to an opinion about font, paper, colour and size. After all, who’d written the thing?

My writer friends had learned to be sternly realistic.  They gave me long lists of suggestions: strategies, timetables, contact details. I was moved by their generosity. Struggling to survive in a competitive profession, they were still happy to share their discoveries and experience.

My book’s now on the market, making its own way in the world. But my sub for the NZSA won’t lapse. There’s a disease ‘Writers Doubts’ for which there’s no known cure. Finding a publisher, and even respectable sales, do little to ease what at worst is an agonising doubt, at best a nagging unease: ‘Have I got it right? Am I worth reading?’ As I launch myself, with no less dread than enthusiasm, into the writing of the inevitable sequel, I need the encouragement and support that can only be given by those who know what it’s like.” END

Heather Hapeta Phones: 353 4677 / 021 158 2816