Short story competition win a surprise for author

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2014
Himali McInnes
SURPRISE WIN: Three Kings resident Himali McInnes wins the NZSA Asian Short Story Competition.

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Medical science and creative writing might not seem like a natural fit but it works for Himali McInnes.

The GP has received first prize in the New Zealand Society of Authors Asian Short Story Competition.

Dr McInnes was born in Sri Lanka and moved to New Zealand as a teenager. The 2500 word story draws inspiration from her cultural background.

It's set in a block of council flats on Dominion Rd and the two protagonists are Sri Lankan women who both lost family in the 30-year civil war in that country.

Despite the fact one woman is Sinhalese and Catholic and the other is Tamal and Hindu they discover that they have a lot more in common than they think.

"The idea is not only to make people aware of the political context but also to show that there are more similarities than differences among us as people," the Three Kings resident says.

Taking out first prize came as quite a surprise. "I didn't quite believe it. I kept expecting someone to ring back and say they had made a mistake."

Competition judging panel convener Lee Murray says her entry stood out. "It is a beautiful, engaging provocative story on the themes of prejudice and forgiveness. It is a well-structured piece of writing, subtly-told and populated with rounded and believable characters."

Dr McInnes started writing stories in her teens.

But it wasn't until she attended some writing courses that she started to think of herself as a writer.

Last year she took part in a free writing course for migrant women run by author Renee Liang.

In 2012 she also signed up for an eight-week introductory creative writing course at The Creative Hub. Both courses encouraged her to write but the act of writing requires persistence, she says.

Dr Himali was presented with a $1000 cheque at the NZSA Asian Short Story Awards Ceremony.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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