A PAINFUL story of growing up gay in a country town has won author Holden Sheppard the City of Fremantle Hungerford Award.
The biennial $12,000 prize and a publishing contract with Fremantle Press is awarded to an emerging WA writer for their first full-length, unpublished work.
Sheppard’s raw and confronting novel Invisible Boys tackles homosexuality, masculinity, anger and suicide.
It’s set in Sheppard’s home town of Geraldton and centres around three 16-year-old boys who, like the author, have to come to terms with their homosexuality.
“In a town where it is invisible and so are they,” Sheppard says.
“I wrote this novel for anyone who has struggled or still is. I want the pain of these characters to be visible to the world.
“I want the world to understand that boys and men suffer, and for gay boys in particular, even in 2018, this struggle can feel like the end of the world, but it isn’t.”
Former Hungerfod winners include Kim Scott, who went on to win a Miles Franklin literary gong as well.
Invisible Boys is set to be published next year.
by JENNY D’ANGER