The Golden Pen Award

Winners Announced! The Golden Pen Award 2020

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It’s the announcement you’ve been waiting for...the winners of the 2020 Golden Pen Writing Award!


From Tincurrin to Christmas Island, daydreamers,storytellers and change makers shared their writing with us for our annual writing award.


We received more than 260 entries across three categories and we’ve been blown away by the quality and creativity on show from young Scribblers. The diverse range of entries showed knowledge and maturity responding to the theme, Planet Earth and it is evident from the wide range of submissions that young people have a desire to protect our planet and to bring about environmental change.


We left the hard work to our panel of expert judges,Australian Children’s Laureate Ursula Dubosarsky, and writers Will Kostakis and Nadia King and we are excited to introduce you to the 2020 winners and shortlisted entrants.  

Read The Winning Stories

Junior Category, Aged 10-12

The Golden Pen Writing Award 2020 - Junior Winner Liv Fechner

Winner: Liv Fechner
Title of Work: The Eye
About: A work that takes you straight into the eye of the storm, Liv’s story will leave you moved and inspired.

Author Bio:
Hi, my name is Liv. I have 2 sisters, and a fabulous black Labrador named Cookie! I love reading and doing art. My favourite things to write about are nature and magic, as there are endless possibilities to them both.

Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

I got my ideas for my story from Mueller Park, the park next to our school, and the storm that occurred while I was writing the start of it.

What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?

The hardest part of writing the story was trying to find descriptive words that had the same meaning as I tried not to use the same words twice.

What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

My favourite books are fantasy and magic books. I also enjoy mythology, and my favourite authors are J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan.

Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

Yes as when I was writing the beginning of my story, the massive storm came and I made my writing reflect my thoughts on it, just more exaggerated.



“The Eye - A strong bracing and dramatic work. I could feel the storm within this piece. Thrilling, powerful writing.” – Nadia King


The Eye - A dramatic glimpse, a moment of reckoning for the narrator-survivor of a catastrophic hurricane and indeed the whole earth. Brave and poetic writing.” – Ursula Dubosarsky


“The greatest short stories invite readers to vividly experience single moments in time, and ‘The Eye’ does exactly that. The beauty of the author’s prose keeps the subject matter from weighing the story down, and the trend towards hope at its conclusion is incredibly moving.” –Will Kostakis


The Golden Pen Writing Award 2020 - Shortlist - Daisy Madden

Shortlisted: Daisy Madden
Title of Work: This is the Earth
About: Tackling current issues, Daisy’s poem is thought provoking and powerful.

Author Bio:
Hi, I’m Daisy Madden and I go to Wembley Primary School. I’m 11 years old and love to write, read and dance. Every Tuesday and Friday I get up early and go to choir. I LOVE singing. My dream is to be a writer when I’m older, so this competition means a lot to me.

Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

My main inspiration for my “This is the Earth” poem was a song that 500 students,including me, sang at a choir show. It was about the Earth supporting the children and the children in turn caring for the Earth. It was the last song I sang with my friend before she changed schools so it’s a very important song tome.

What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?

The hardest part was keeping a reasonable rhyming pattern going. Sometimes it took me half an hour to get one line finished.

What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

I love to read fairy tale style stories with female main characters. They make me feel like I’m part of their long, magical journey.

My favourite authors are Jaclyn Moriarty and Chris Riddell. I met Chris Riddell at the Scribbler’s Festival and he inspired me to want to be a writer.

Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

My poems are normally influenced by my emotions and sometimes the smaller things in the world that people don’t always notice.


This is the Earth - A stirring rhythmic impassioned piece with a positive message of hope. Arousing anthem for the current generation of children.” – Nadia King


This is the Earth - I loved the robust rhythm of this rallying marching song - a call to action! Passionate and determined.” – Ursula Dubosarsky


“This is the Earth’ captures the intergenerational frustrations of our time. The young are agitated by their elders’ disregard for the world. Daisy uses collective first- and second-person voice to establish an“Us Vs. Them” dynamic. In the end, those who fight “to make things right” win out in the end. The poem is a rally cry for young people to protect the world.”– Will Kostakis


The Golden Pen Award 2020 - Shortlist - Pascale Gallen

Shortlisted: Pascale Gallen
Title of Work: We Didn’t Start the Fire
About: A story that takes us into a future world, that still resembles the here and now. Pascale’s work will leave you thinking about what lies ahead.

Author Bio:
I live on Christmas Island. My favourite things to do is play my violin, read, write stories and snorkel. There are tropical fish and colourful coral which makes it such a joy to snorkel. I like to watch
MasterChef Australia and When Calls the Heart.


Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

Sometimes I get my ideas from a website called pobble365 and it comes up with a picture. I challenge myself to write about that picture. This story though, I did not use pobble365 as I already had a topic,“Planet Earth”. Because we are going through Covid-19 and the bushfires that started at the end of 2019, I based my story on them as well.


What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?

When I started, my main idea was very cliché. I realised that I wanted my writing to stand out and that led to me writing a story that was, in a way, set in the future. The first story I wrote was very boring and I decided to write another. It wasn’t difficult to write another story as I already had ideas and soon I forgot about my original story. The hardest part of writing the story was to come up with a good title.


What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

I like to read fiction books because when I read books it is like I have unlocked the door to another world. In some books,I feel that I have great friendships with the characters and sorrow enters my heart when I finish the book and have to say goodbye to the characters. My favourite types of books are historical fiction and mystery. I like historical fiction because it explains famous events but in an entertaining way. I like mystery because you cannot put the book down until you solve the case. One of my favourite authors is Enid Blyton. I like her books because they are in the mystery genre.


Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

My story was influenced by Corona Virus and the bushfires that started at the end of 2019. I also thought about how these two things affected the environment. The bushfires damaged the environment, but then when everyone had to stay inside due to Corona Virus, the environment improved. In big cities, the skies were clear, and in Venice, there were dolphins in the canals. Sometimes good things can come from bad situations. I decided to put these ideas into my story.


“We Didn't Start the Fire - A distinctive and relatable voice. Great use of current events projected into a speculative fiction piece. Engaging storytelling.” – Nadia King


“We Didn't Start the Fire - A vivid imagining of family and social life in the future on a planet where nobody can leave the house. An intelligent and observant story told with a light touch.” – Ursula Dubosarsky


“The author of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ imagines a world where we can’t leave the house, to great results. The story feels timely, given our current social distance, but where it really succeeds is in letting us into the mind of a young adult.” – Will Kostakis


Middle Category, Aged 12-14

The Golden Pen Writing Award 2020 - Winner - Summer Allen

Winner: Summer Allen
Title of Work: I’ll Be Tall One Day
About: A beautifully crafted poem that explores separation and longing and resonates with current times.

Author Bio:
My name is Summer Allen, and like most Scribblers fans, my bookcase is currently overflowing. I’m looking forward to sports resuming, but honestly could have done with a few more weeks of online schooling. I plan to travel when I leave school in a couple of years, and despite 15 years of people asking me, I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

At the risk of sounding cliché, I draw my inspiration from the world around me. When I write I focus on little things that I’ve seen or experienced and use them as a jumping off point for the rest of my writing. An empty path turns into a paragraph, a doctor’s visit becomes an anecdote, the outside world always shadows my pen.

What was the hardest part of writingthis piece? Was it difficult to get started?

The hardest part about writing this piece was the first word, so yes it was extremely difficult to get started. I’m a procrastinator at heart and being stuck in quarantine definitely didn’t help in the motivation department. After leaving my submission to the last minute, I decided to just put my pen to paper and write, no matter how terrible and nonsensical the sentences produced were, I made myself write until eventually it started to make sense. And after an enormous amount of rewriting and editing, I submitted it.

What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

I don’t have a particular preference to any genre, in my mind a good book is a good book. Lately I’ve steered more towards the books and series set in our universe. Why? I have no idea, but I’m enjoying this phase, and there are certainly enough books to keep me busy and entertained. My favourite authors include Becky Albertalli, Neal Shusterman, Leigh Bardugo, and Lynette Noni.

Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

My creativity is always influenced by the world around me. My piece was written during Perth’s weeks of quarantine and revolves around ideas of isolation and longing prominent in the current epidemic. When I write I right according to whatever I feel at the time, as a result if I’m not in the right mood I won’t be able to continue a piece until that feeling returns. Influence from the world around us is what makes writing interesting, without it relatability would be non-existent, and readers wouldn’t be bothered to read past the second line.


“I'll Be Tall One Day - A declaration of love for the Earth in free verse. Vivid imagery and varied stanza length make this an emotive and thought-provoking piece.” – Nadia King


“I'll Be Tall One Day - A charming, wistful love song to the Earth - cries out to be set to music. An original piece, both lyrical and convincing.” – Ursula Dubosarsky


‘I’ll Be Tall One Day’ is a poem for our times. The poet has taken all our yearning for normalcy and channelled it into an ode to the world we miss. Lyrical and hopeful, it reminds us that the future will be different. – Will Kostakis


The Golden Pen Writing Award 2020 - Shortlist - Cecile Bonfils

Shortlisted: Cecile Bonfils
Title of Work: The Key to the World
About: A magical story that immerses you in wonder and has you asking questions to the end.

Author Bio:
In the future, my goal is to publish my own novel and I would like to become a journalist when I am older. Some of my favourite things include writing, art,cats and theorising about the world.

Author Interview:

Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

Often I get inspiration from books that already exist and combine ideas to make my own story, then take components of that story and previous others to put together to make the final story.  

What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?  

I didn’t actually have a way to connect the story to the ending until I had written most of it, so it was difficult to make it work somehow without there being a leap to the solution out of nowhere.

What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

My favourite genre is fantasy, as it is interesting to see different versions of the actual world that would be near impossible in reality. Some of my favourite authors are J.K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett. One of my favourite books is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

Not that I notice. My ideas are usually separate from the world around me.


“The Key to the World - Mystery and nostalgia woven into a compelling tale in which magic holds the key to survival. Imaginative and captivating storytelling.” – Nadia King


“The Key to the World - A complete and cleverly constructed story about a mysterious indeed cosmic music box, that leaves the reader shaken and wondering.”  – Ursula Dubosarsky


“I was gripped from the first sentence of ‘The Key to the World’, and it’s a testament to the author’s considerable talent that I was asking questions until the very final line, and then left completely satisfied. A mysterious, imaginative piece that had me looking at the whole world differently.” – Will Kostakis

Shortlisted: Elana Godfrey
Title of Work: The Fittest
About: A gripping story that delivers a chilling twist, Elana’s narrative will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Author Bio:
Elana Godfrey was born in Perth, Western Australia. Elana has been writing from a young age – songs, stories and poems. She currently enjoys reading funny and twisty books, especially by authors such as Jay Kristoff, Leigh Bardugo and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

·      Books

·      Songs

·      Right hemisphere of brain


What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?

·      I had too many ideas and tried to smoosh them all together in the first draft which created a mess

·      After singling out an overarching idea – everything on earth, including the planet, adapting to dominate – the story kind of came together

·      I wasn’t sure how to end since I had so many endings in mind but I managed to finally settle on one


 What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

·      I love reading books by Jay Kristoff – Nevernight Chronicles, Lifelike Series and Illuminae Files. He twists and mocks the genres, and always adds in sarcastic characters and a lot of banter. Loads and loads of banter.

·      I also loved reading the Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo. It depicts a heist set in a fantasy world. Enough said.

·      Cemetery of Forgotten books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It had me in tears and visiting the Cemetery of Forgotten books is my biggest dream.


Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

·      Oh yes definitely!

·      I constantly think about world events when writing, so ‘Planet Earth’ was a wonderful theme due to issues on climate change. Wha tmakes it fun is twisting those ideas (Could Earth actually be bad and humans the victims?)

·      Music, something I listen way too much to, also reflects world events, so I am hugely influenced by songs and the ideas in them.

Judges’ Comments:

“The Fittest - A terrific sense of movement in this piece. Great use of dramatic irony brings this story to a powerful conclusion.” – Nadia King


“The Fittest - A terrifying science fiction adventure, where the Earth is fighting back, and the humans have to struggle for their own survival. Great pacing and descriptive writing.” – Ursula Dubosarsky


“The Fittest’ is a fast-paced science-fiction story that asks readers to imagine a planet that wants us dead, and nestled inside it, a reminder why we tell stories in social isolation: “It gets quite lonely living in your own thoughts. That’s why I told myself a story. That’s why I told you a story.” – Will Kostakis


Senior Category Aged 15-17

Winner: Ellen Vigus
Title of Work: The World Rewound
About: A powerful poem about our world that will make you stop and pay attention.

Author Bio:
I am a student from WA with a passion for words. I love writing poetry, and I have my own poetry blog. I enjoy drinking strong coffee and binge-reading good books.


Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

My poetry is a reflection of my thoughts. I draw inspiration from the people and the world around me. Writing is my way of expressing how I feel and I write when I have something to say.


What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?

It took me a while to start this piece, as it deals with a complex topic that I don't usually write about. However, once I had the idea the words came easily.


What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

I'm a prolific reader. I've always loved stories, even from a young age. I enjoy fantasy, contemporary, dystopia, romance, sci fi, and the list goes on. Some of my favourite authors are Rainbow Rowell, Victoria Schwab, Cassandra Clare, Isobelle Carmody, Marissa Meyer, Brandon Sanderson and John Marsden. I'll basically read anything with compelling characters, interesting relationships, magical worlds and intricate plots.

Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

Yes, definitely. Writing is my way of processing and understanding the things that are happening around me. I often find that I'm most creative during difficult or uncertain times. Most of my poetry is a direct response to events and challenges in my life and in the world around me.


“The World Rewound - A sophisticated work. I was impressed by the structure, imagery and horrifying ending. A thought-provoking and disturbing piece of work.” – Nadia King


“The World Rewound - A lyrical poem about the end of the Earth and the possibility of an uncertain redemption. Unsettling and prophetic.” – Ursula Dubosarsky


“‘The World Rewound’ is a stunning poem that is as beautiful as it is eviscerating. The poet imagines a world where the damage humankind has wrought is undone, but alas, it’s all in their dreams … What an ending. What a poem!” – Will Kostakis


Shortlist: Eliza Murray
Title of Work: Harvest
About: An immersive work of poetry that encourages us to slow down and connect with the world.

Author Bio:
My name is Eliza Murray. I grew up on a sheep and crop farm in a very small town called Tincurrin and am now partly living in Perth to go to school. I absolutely love the open space, freedom and fresh air when I am at home in the outdoors, there is nothing quite like it. I also love sport, cooking and spending time with my family and two dogs.


Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

Personally, I find it easiest to write about things which resonate with me because it means I can draw on many different aspects of the topic and really think deeply about it. I usually like to choose ideas relating our farm as I enjoy creating vivid imagery for the reader.

What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?

The hardest part of writing this piece was coming up with the initial idea and getting a clear idea in my head about what I wanted the poem to be about and look like on the page. Once I had started collecting ideas, it started to flow a bit better.

What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

No favourite author in particular, I just pick any book which takes my fancy!

Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

Definitely. I am not naturally a creative person, but by writing about things I love, enjoy or even am saddened by but can connect with, shape my writing. Without the things that happen around me, I would have no inspiration for ideas to write about.



Harvest - A great example of concrete poetry. Wonderful use of movement and strong imagery. Beautiful writing.” – Nadia King


Harvest - I loved the beauty and movement of this concrete poem that takes the reader in and out of the physical harvest with an emotional suddenness that lingers in the reader's mind.” – Ursula Dubosarsky


“There’s something hypnotic about ‘Harvest’ …There’s a gentle immediacy to it. The writing is beautiful and never overwrought. An effortless read.”  – Will Kostakis


Shortlist: Eva Mustapic
Title of Work: The Drowned City
About: Eva’s story pulls you into an underwater landscape and explores a future world that will leave a mark on the reader.

Author Bio:
Eva Mustapic is a Year 11 student at Applecross Senior High School where she is in the Art Program and the Music program.She writes fiction, poetry and short stories, and was a joint winner for the 2018 Tim Winton Short Story Award and the youth award winner of the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing 2018. She hopes to write and publish books in the future.

Where do you get your inspiration/ideas?

Honestly, the hardest part of writing for me is the inspiration. I've found authors are usually inspired by either character, setting or plot. I'm usually a setting writer. My favourite part of writing is immersing the reader with description and sensory imagery, so I'll often write pieces inspired by the atmosphere of a moment or setting.



What was the hardest part of writing this piece? Was it difficult to get started?

I've had the idea for this piece rolling around in my head for a while, so for once the inspiration wasn't an issue - this competition was just a reason for me to finally write it. The hardest part was probably figuring out how much to tell, and how much to leave out; it was very tempting to go and explain all the ways the earth and society had changed in my piece, but it didn't really need that.


What do you like to read and why? Any favourite authors?

I read a lot of YA novels because I find them easier to relate to, and probably because they're designed to appeal to my demographic. I typically enjoy crime and fantasy novels. I'm one of those people who struggles to pick a favourite author. However, I'm also someone who never rereads books, but I have gone back and reread the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy multiple times, somaybe I'd nominate him.


Do you find your creativity is affected/influenced by the things that are happening in the world around you?

I think it's unavoidable. Even if you're not directly reacting to current events, they affect the way you think and they come through in your writing.Whatever's most strongly in my mind and impacting me ends up on the page, so of course current events make it into my writing, even if I don't directly intend to write about them.


“The Drowned City - Evocative imagery. I kept seeing the lawns of seagrass, trees of liquorice kelp and the reflective towers of blue. Great use of dramatic irony to bring the reader to a powerful and disturbing conclusion.” – Nadia King

“The Drowned City - An extraordinary exploratory story of a world underwater. The reader swims with the narrator through a disturbing yet alsobeautifully evoked, visionary landscape.” – Ursula Dubosarsky

“‘The Drowned City’ is a well-constructed piecethat builds and builds until it poses a final question that will surely linger in many readers’ minds. A terrific achievement.” - Will Kostakis

Feeling inspired? Enter our new competition - Connecting Through Creativity. Using any form of visual art, explore the topic of CONNECTIVITY and you could win $500 in prizes! Click here for more information on age categories, prizes, and how to enter.