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Katherine Johnson’s journey from prize to publication

Katherine Johnson's prize-winning manuscript has been released as a novel, The Better Son

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Katherine Johnson, shortly after winning the University of Tasmania Prize for best unpublished manuscript as part of the 2013 Tasmanian Literary Prizes (now the Premier's Literary Prizes)

Katherine Johnson, shortly after winning the University of Tasmania Prize for best unpublished manuscript as part of the 2013 Tasmanian Literary Prizes (now the Premier’s Literary Prizes)

Katherine Johnson has released her second novel The Better Son (Ventura Press, 2016) at Fullers Bookshop in Hobart.

Set in Mole Creek, the literary thriller was inspired by the true story of two young boys who discovered one of Tasmania’s most popular tourist caves in 1906 only to keep it secret for years.

For two young brothers, a hidden cave a short walk from the family farm seems the perfect escape from their abusive, shell-shocked father — until the older brother goes missing. Fearful of his father, nine-year-old Kip lies about what happened. It is a decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

The Better Son is already generating some buzz in literary circles. Island Magazine editor Vern Field calls The Better Son “a fabulous read: moving, haunting, at times devastating, redemptive, and so evocative of the Mole Creek area”.   And author Rachel Power notes that the novel is “a gripping story of loss, trauma and the devastating impact of family secrets. The Better Son is a literary thriller that haunts the reader well beyond its final page”.   

The book’s manuscript (previously known as Kubla) won the University of Tasmania Prize for best unpublished manuscript in the 2013 Tasmanian Literary Prizes, now known as the Premier’s Literary Prizes.  Speaking shortly after winning the prize in 2013, Katherine said she was thrilled:

“After putting years of work into a book, the encouragement that such an award provides can’t be underestimated. It’s also a really valuable leg-up towards publication in what is currently a very difficult publishing environment, particularly for writers who are yet to become well-established,” she said.

The Better Son is now available in book stores and libraries.

Entries for the 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes will open in early 2017.