(Lucy Hambly of Stittsville and a student at A. Lorne Cassidy School received an Awesome Authors Honourable Mention for her creative writing skills.)
The Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest, sponsored by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA), has announced this year’s Awesome Authors. From December 2020 to February 2021, Ottawa youth aged 9-18 were invited to submit their original writing in one of six categories: short story, poetry, or comic in English, and nouvelle, poésie, or bande dessinée in French.
“This contest demonstrates once again how important artistic expression is in the lives of the city’s youth and how deeply OPL cares about not only meeting this need, but also getting these kids to fall in love with the art of writing,” said Matthew Luloff, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board and Councillor for Orléans. “This year’s submissions really impressed us with their creativity and the message of resilience, solidarity, and hope voiced by their authors. A special thanks to the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association for their support in making this contest happen.”
In total, the contest’s judges received a whopping 512 entries, from which six winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honourable Mentions 1-3) were selected for each category. The writing talent of Lucy Hambly, a student at Lorne Cassidy Elementary School, was recognized as she received an Honourable Mention 3 in the Short Story age 9-12 category for her story, titled Twilight Wind.
Catherine Austen, who writes for children, teens, and adults, acted as one of the judges for the contest. Catherine introduced the winners and special mentions for the Short Story age 9-12 category. On Lucy’s story, Twilight Wind, Catherine says: “This is a beautifully written, mature story that’s post-apocalyptic, but not hopeless. It’s really hopeful and uplifting, and it seems almost like a metaphor for COVID, so it was very touching at this time.” After reading an excerpt from Twilight Wind, Catherine elaborates on why Lucy’s story was chosen for an Honourable Mention: “I chose this story for the beauty of the writing, the vivid setting, and the believable voice.”
Twelve-year-old Lucy states that she originally wrote Twilight Wind, previously titled Up, almost a year prior to submitting it to Awesome Authors. After hearing that the contest was once again open, she decided to revisit the story since she enjoyed it. Lucy rewrote the original version, as she found she’d improved since first writing it. Lucy describes Twilight Wind as, “a dystopian, post-apocalyptic story that highlights the fact that you should never stop believing that things will get better.” She believes that, with COVID happening, the story is even more relatable.
Twilight Wind is inspired by COVID, which had just begun when Lucy wrote the original story. She saw a lot of short stories on the internet surrounding the pandemic and thought it would be fun to write her own story, adding in elements from the futuristic novels she’d been reading at the time. Lucy also found inspiration in her surroundings: “The trail mentioned in the story was loosely inspired around the Poole Creek trail, where I had been biking the first time the idea of the story started forming in my head.”
When asked what she likes most about writing, Lucy says her “favourite thing about writing is how there are no rules. If you don’t like the rules and laws that we have, you are able to completely reinvent them or even design a whole new world where you are solely in control. It’s also fun to think up crazy scenarios and ideas- for instance, what if we had landed on Mars instead of the Moon? It’s fairly easy to think up intriguing ideas, and I love exploring them even more!” Very much a creative, Lucy enjoys singing, playing the ukulele, and listening to music for hours on end. She also likes to draw – both digitally and traditionally – and watch shows on Netflix with her family.
Lucy’s short story, Twilight Wind, will appear alongside the creative writing of her fellow Awesome Authors contest winners in FOPLA’s 2021 pot-pourri anthology. The 2021 edition will be out at the end of the year and available for purchase on FOPLA’s website.