• arts & culture

15 June 2017

Congratulations to Christian White, winner of the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript for his debut novel Decay Theory.

Presented during the opening night of the 2017 Emerging Writers' Festival, the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript seeks to uncover new Victorian literary talent.

White will take home $15,000 for his manuscript, an intriguing page-turner about a small town mystery involving mistaken identity.

Following the accolade, the acclaimed screenwriter will soon add published author to his credentials having signed a publishing deal with Affirm Press.

White's manuscript was chosen from a shortlist of three unpublished works from a total of 88 entries. The shortlist included Laura Stortenbeker's Low Light and Kaz Kilmore-Barrymore's Truth Untold. The two runners-up will receive a Writers Victoria membership and a place on a course of their choice from the 2017 Writers Victoria program.

Previous winners include Jane Harper who won in 2015 for her detective novel, The Dry. The book has since been sold to 20 international publishers and film rights have been ­optioned by Reese Witherspoon's production company. Last year's winner, Melanie Cheng, will have her awarded manuscript, Australia Day, published by Text next month.

The Award for an Unpublished Manuscript is part of the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, which are administered by the Wheeler Centre on behalf of the Victorian Government.

Judges' Reports

Katherine Brabon, Hannah Donnelly and Amra Pajalic


Christian White (Coburg) – Decay Theory
When an American accountant approaches Melbourne-based Kimberly Leamy and tells her he believes she is Sammy Went, a child who was abducted as a two-year-old from her home in Manson, Kentucky, Kim believes this is a case of mistaken identity. But as she investigates her family, questions arise and she travels to Kentucky to find answers. This is an assured novel and a page-turner about a small town mystery dealing with trauma, cult and memory.


Laura Stortenbeker (Brunswick East) – Low Light
This novella/collection has an immediate sense of place and is a dark exploration of suburbs. Dealing with themes of early motherhood, drink driving, loss, hospital encounters, sisters and sexual experiences in vivid and raw prose.

Kaz Kilmore- Barrymore (Richmond) – Truth Untold
A murder mystery featuring Chrissie O'Brian, investigative journalist, who receives a tip-off that there is something dodgy going on at the wharves. When her source turns up dead, Chrissie begins investigating. Told against the backdrop of the newsroom, docks and corporate politics, this is a well-paced mystery with excellent characterisation.