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NMIT Bachelor of Writing and Publishing Student Wins Literary Award

25 Mar 2013

NMIT Bachelor of Writing and Publishing student Sarah Billington has had quite a year. Recently returned from the US, where she met with her US agent and several publishing heavyweights, the children's author is also riding high after winning an award from the Fellowship of Australian Writers for her short story Life was easier when boys were stupid.

Sarah won the Gippsland Mary Grant Bruce short story award for children's literature and $200 in prize money last month. “It was quite shocking when I opened the letter. I don't enter competitions very often, and it was very exciting to win this one.”

The 26-year-old novelist, now in her second year at NMIT, recently wrote a series of articles on her travels around the world, published by the Star Newspaper Group. She has also had feature articles, movie reviews and interviews published in magazines like Lot's Wife. But her main passion is children's literature. “I always knew I wanted to be a novelist. Writing for adults didn't feel quite right and I've always enjoyed teen movies and books. I felt a bit ashamed of that as I got older because I thought I should be enjoying content with more literary merit. But now I've realised it's ok to want to write for kids. I have much more fun doing it.”

Sarah's US agent is currently trying to sell her first novel, Life was cool until you got popular, about two best friends whose relationship disintegrates in high school. She is currently working on another novel for young adults. “It's a contemporary school-based book for girls. It deals with friendship issues and learning about who you are.” Sarah spent part of her trip to the US attending the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators summer and winter conferences, where she met with other authors and editors. “I got to see my agent and I met loads of authors. Having author friends is so important, because they understand what you're going through.”

Sarah's TAFE studies have also led her to discover a passion for screenwriting. “I learned a lot about technique. I sent a TV pilot to Channel Ten. They really liked it but they had that demographic filled at the time.” She also reached the quarter finals of a US screen writing competition. “At the moment I'm focussing on my books, but at some point in the future I'd really love to do screen writing.”

Sarah, who has also studied Arts at university, says she loves the hands-on aspect of studying at TAFE. “You're studying writing so you actually do some writing. During my arts degree I didn't do any writing for the writing component. It was all theory.”

The course has also given her the opportunity to spend time with like-minded people who love literature. “The tutors and lecturers are really passionate about the industry. I really thrive in that sort of environment. I get a lot out of it.”

For more information on Sarah's work visit:


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NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.