LOCAL author and teacher Mark Smith believes the old saying every English teacher thinks they have a novel in them and in his case, it’s a trilogy.
Mr Smith’s first novel The Road to Winter was shortlisted in last year’s Young Adult Indie Book Award category and the sequel Wilder Country, was recently announced as this year’s winner.
In its 10th year, the Indie Book Awards held in Hobart March 25-27 recognise and celebrate the country’s incredible talent and the role independent booksellers play in supporting and nurturing Australian writing.
Mark said his second novel (part of a trilogy with Text Publishing) is set in a town not dissimilar to Anglesea and tells the story of two teenage boys and a girl.
“It’s a journey book that tells a story after a massive virus has wiped out most of the population. The three main characters venture into rogue territory known as Wilder Country where law and order has broken down; they go inland to find a baby and bring the baby home,” he said.
Mr Smith draws from his daily life for inspiration for his novels, including the Surf Coast surrounds and his own daughter’s birth story.
“Even though it’s almost the end of the world, the main character still finds time to surf. It helps him keep in touch with his old life,” he said.
Mr Smith said to be recognised with a national award served as a confirmation that his books were resonating with an audience.
“The story itself normally takes 12 months to write, then another six months to get organised for submission and another 12 months after it’s submitted before it appears on the bookshelves,” he said.
“At the minute I’m working two full time jobs working and writing on the weekends, at night and during the school holidays. As an author what more could you want than to see your book in a store and to pick up an award like this, it’s the affirmation that you can actually do this.”
Mr Smith travelled to Hobart March 26 and was joined by Torquay Books owner, Rosemary Featherston, who won the Regional Bookstore of the Year award.
“I had no idea we were going to win – the publishers have a list of criteria and they nominate booksellers that meet that criteria. The final decision is made by Leading Edge, I won the same award three years ago,” Ms Featherston said.
“We’re really proactive in the community, we have events and I’m willing to take on things and give authors a go.”
“I think we’re successful because we have fantastic staff, we know how to have fun. We provide fantastic customer service, and the community really embraces small businesses.”