Cath Crowley clinches Prime Minister's Literary Award for Words in Deep Blue

Big win: Local author Cath Crowley accepting the $80,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction for her 2017 novel Words in Deep Blue.

Big win: Local author Cath Crowley accepting the $80,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction for her 2017 novel Words in Deep Blue.

Avoca author Cath Crowley has received a prestigious $80,000 literature award for the second time. 

Her novel Words in Deep Blue won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction on December 1. 

The novel follows the densely layered story of woman grieving the death of her brother while working in an extraordinary second-hand bookstore.

Crowley said she was surprised and already felt “so lucky to have won it once” in 2011 for Graffiti Moon.

“There’s such great young adult fiction out there and the shortlist was so strong both times,” she said.

“It took six years to write it, but it kind of feels like yesterday that I won it the last time.

“A lot of the emails I get about Words in Deep Blue are from people who have lost someone in their lives, and a physical thing has allowed them to keep that person in the world in a small way.”

While the success of Graffiti Moon made her more more financially secure and increased the reading public’s knowledge of her, but she said it initially stifled her productivity and creativity.

“In terms of the writing, I felt so overwhelmed by winning it,” she said.

“The next thing that came out, I wanted to be just as good, and that’s not conducive to writing because you really need to be able to take a risk and just not worry.

“This time feels completely different, I can just write something I love now and not think so much about what happens, because I’ve already done my winning.”

The former Ballarat resident has been writing for young adults since 2004, and currently teaches in Melbourne. 

She recently released Take Three Girls, which she co-wrote with other young adult authors Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell.

The book focuses on unlikely yet strong female friendships and the impact of the internet.

Crowley said creating in the emerging climate of diverse voices alongside other female writers was a unique experience. 

“The writing was easier in a sense, because we could talk about character arcs together,” she said. 

“It was also like a masterclass in writing … You can take a course, but you can’t often be there when a writer is creating and plotting things out.

“Girls are hungry for conversations about feminism and cyber-bullying at the moment.

“We need to feel like the world is bigger than our day to day, and art and books are a way of connecting us to other people and connecting us to big ideas.”