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Writer Wins Literary Prize With Just 150 Words

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Writer Wins Literary Prize With Just 150 Words

A 150 word story about a 1972 Holden Kingswood has scored aspiring writer James Francis first prize in the inaugural BNZ Literary Awards Short Short Story Award.

The story, called Whoo eh!, depicts a child’s reaction to their teacher’s flash new car, and was chosen out of more than 300 entries to the world-first competition, run entirely on Facebook.

Judge Graham Beattie says, “It was a difficult task to pick a winner from the high calibre of entries. Whoo eh! is an entertaining and humorous story with a real New Zealand voice. A remarkable achievement with only 150 words available.”

Whoo eh! is the first piece of writing the Tawa resident had entered into an award, which he says has given him a boost to take his writing to the next level.

“I was thrilled to have won this Award and am hugely flattered to have my writing chosen by Graham Beatty. I have always wanted to focus on my personal writing and have had the beginning of this story floating around for a long time. Now I am inspired to enter the other Award categories.”

Mr Beattie says it especially interesting to note the significant number of entries from Christchurch residents writing about their earthquake experiences, one of which, Danger Pay by Will Harvie, received a highly commended notice.

Also awarded for a Highly Commended note was Day’s End, a story by Grant Aldridge which had an unexpected twist at the end.

“My congratulations to all those who entered this “short short story” competition, a timely event in this age of texting and twittering and brief postings to Facebook,” he says.
The Short Short Story Award is a new category of the BNZ Literary, founded to celebrate one of New Zealand’s most innovative writers, Katherine Mansfield. It was run entirely on Facebook with stories of 100 to 150 words being submitted on a vast range of topics.
To view submissions, go to

Whoo eh, by James Francis

'Whoo eh' is a 1972 Holden Kingswood. The first and only car I ever bought new. It cost $5,000 back when $5,000 was a third of a senior teacher's salary. I'd just been appointed senior teacher and the car was a self-indulgent reward. The name had come from my wife. I'd been telling her about the kids' reaction when I'd driven the car into the teachers' carpark. "Hey sir, whose flash car is that? Did you nick it?" "Ehoa! Sir doesn't need to nick it. He just has to teach dumbarses like you and they pay him money." They scramble through the car. "Lookit this! Stereo radio! Whoo eh!" "Sheepskin seat covers! Whoo eh!" "Whoo. And it's got power steering too. Whoo eh! You'll never turn those pipis into muscles now, sir." Whoo eh. A simple exclamation that in two syllables could convey pride, wonder, amazement or bugger-me disbelief.

Danger Pay, by Will Harvie

"My laptop," Tim says. "Second floor, big office on the right." "Last guy paid $200," I say. Tim winks. Next day, I enter Tim's building in Christchurch's red zone. The quake is five weeks old and I'm not supposed to be here. Civil Defence worries about collapses. The cops arrest looters. I expect the stench, but not the noise. The flies in Tim's ground floor restaurant sound like chainsaws. I rush up the back stairs. The building pulsates and bits of plaster fall on me. Aftershock. Two cats squeal and race past me, going down. Then calm. I breathe again. In dim light, I find Tim's office and his machine. I flee outside to my demolition truck and hide the computer. Total time in building: two minutes. Was that worth 200 bucks? Yeah. Later I meet Tim. He says, "I'm Garry. You're under arrest."

Day’s End, by Grant Aldridge

Bess yawned. She'd had a wonderfully lazy day relaxing in the sun - even dozing off a few times. (Bess was no spring chicken, so there was no shame in it.) Where had the day gone? David would be home soon and she'd accomplished nothing. Bess had a perfect life and David was a huge part of it. No need to go out to work, a weekly housekeeper, and a loving home where she could relax and be herself. "It isn't laziness, just good planning," she'd heard someone say in her defence. Not that she cared what people thought. Brrgh, the last of the sun had gone. Bess would have to move. Wait a minute, what was that sound? The front door? David was home already! Bess got to her feet, wagged her tail and raced downstairs to greet her master. She'd missed him!


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