Firstly, congratulations to each of the shortlisters. Believe me, no matter what happens you are all winners. You will all benefit in some way from the Richell Prize.
One thing I've learned in the last eleven months is how seriously Hachette Australia regards new or emerging writing talent, and the time, the patience and the thoughtfulness they are prepared to invest.
So, the contacts you'll make, the feedback you will receive and the friendships that might form - all of these things benefit all the shortlisters.
For me, winning the prize last year really has been a game-changer.
Just a few weeks after the award I was offered a publishing contract and since that time I've been under the guidance of the wonderful Robert Watkins - he told me I had to say that! Robert has gently, wisely and firmly nudged me along the path of completing the manuscript, re-drafting very big chunks of it and now working through the final editing process.
When I won last year I said the Richell Prize was generous and kind and important. I meant that it is given in such good faith to an unfinished piece of work. That is very kind indeed, and a very brave thing to do. I still marvel at it and I'm still very grateful to Hannah Richell and the Richell family.
So the prize has given me the gift of becoming a published writer, and of course that's something that is fine-tuning and reshaping my life.
And I'm sure that for this year's winner it will be am equally rewarding and special journey.
Sally's debut novel Closing Down will be out on 24th April 2017.
Hachette Australia, the Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) and our media partner Guardian Australia are thrilled to announce the winner of the 2017 Richell Prize for emerging writers.