Riverina author, podcaster and audiobook narrator Katrina Roe has been named the winner of a national writers and illustrators competition.
Katrina placed first in the ‘Published Writers (chapter books and young adult novels)’ category of the Children, Young Adult, and Adult (CYA) Writers’ and Illustrators’ Conference’s 2023 competition. The category was for published authors and their unpublished manuscripts.
Katrina entered a manuscript for a story called The Stolen Child, which weaves together three ancient Scottish fairytales, including the story of The Stolen Bairn, Katie Crackernuts and the mythology around the fairy flag at Dunvegan Castle.
“It is very exciting and surprising,” Katrina said. “I’ve entered these awards many times before and my main goal was just getting feedback.
“To win is amazing because I will get a 15-minute consultation with a publisher from Penguin Random House and they will consider you for publication.
“It’s a beautiful affirmation that you’ve done something that the publisher enjoyed.”
The former broadcaster has now published five children’s picture books and has also been entering her work with CYA Conference for nearly a decade.
“The great thing about CYA is it’s a conference and a competition … they have many categories and you get a lot of feedback,” Katrina said.
“You get feedback from two judges. It’s a useful way of seeing where your story is at.”
In 2020, it was on Katrina’s to-do list to finish the manuscript for The Stolen Child in three months, but due to the pandemic, it was left incomplete.
Over the past few years, the mother of three worked on her story bit by bit.
“Last year, I finally got a week where I didn’t have anything on and worked really hard to get it finished,” Katrina said.
“During the whole process, my goal was to write something for fun … I didn’t want to worry about the market or who was going to publish it or overanalyse it.
“It wasn’t planned. I just followed the story where it led.”
The Stolen Child is set on the Isle of Skye and several other beautiful and otherworldly fairytale locations in Scotland, where her ancestors are from.
Katrina said the idea for the story struck her a decade ago and she typed out the opening lines into her phone.
“To claim that I was single-handedly responsible for the extinction of fairies, as some have said, is wildly inaccurate. For starters, everybody knows that fairy sightings had become increasingly rare long before I ever met one and nobody did anything about it. Secondly, nobody today seems to realise how insanely troublesome the creatures really were.”
“It was an idea and I didn’t know where it was going to go … it just sat there for a while until I read these old fairy-tale collections by (Australian fantasy author) Kate Forsyth,” she said.
“The Stolen Child is a coming-of-age adventure story about finding out who you really are.”
While writing her story, Katrina would often listen to Gaelic music and language and look at photographs from the locations.
“I found my writing really lifted because I was writing in a state of flow … I was completely free, anything could happen and it could go anywhere,” Katrina said.
“I feel like this is the best writing I have done. It’s very lyrical and musical because there was this part of me that was back there in Skye with all my senses alive … it’s the most beautiful and magical place.”
You can learn more about Katrina and follow her work here.