The 17th Annual Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) reveals acclaimed novelist Di Morrissey is to be inducted into the ABIA Hall of Fame with the Lloyd O’Neil Award presented by literary great Tom Keneally (Lloyd O’Neil Award recipient 1995) at next week’s gala ceremony on 25 May in Sydney.
Selling more than three million copies in her 25-year career, Morrissey is one of the most successful and prolific authors Australia has produced with 24 novels and three children’s books. Morrissey will join an elite group of Lloyd O’Neil Award author recipients including Peter Carey, John Marsden, Margaret Fulton and Bryce Courtenay.
Keneally reflected, “Di Morrissey, an old neighbour of mine, has not only distinguished herself through writing novels loved by hundreds of thousands of Australians but – let us not forget – made possible the publication of many books that may not have otherwise have appeared without her contribution to the Australian book industry.”
Trained as a journalist working in newspapers, magazines, television, film, theatre and advertising around the world, Morrissey found her true vocation as a novelist. It is hard to single out a signature Morrissey bestseller, however Tears of the Moon, set in Broome, remains a perennial Australian favourite.
Top literary agent Margaret Connolly who has taken Australian writers and illustrators to local bookshops and the world, will also be honoured at the ABIAs with the Pixie O’Harris Award that recognises excellence and dedicated service to Australian children’s literature.
For over 30 years, Connolly has developed a client list that includes some of Australia’s most distinguished novelists, poets, non-fiction authors, film-makers, children’s writers and illustrators, including Les Murray, Kate Jennings, David Ireland, Rachael Treasure, Julie Vivas, Kerry Argent, Stephen Michael King, Catherine Jinks, Phillip Gwynne and Margaret Wild; to newcomers who in their short careers are award-winners, such as Sara Acton and Lesley Gibbes. Connolly was one of the first agents to represent children’s book illustrators, with her remarkable client list a testament to her dedication and unerring eye for talent.
Internationally acclaimed author, Catherine Jinks (Evil Genius trilogy, Pagan Chronicles) said, “For Margaret Connolly, being a literary agent is more than just a job. It’s a vocation. Her work doesn’t end at negotiations and contracts; she counsels, comforts, encourages, promotes and stealthily supports her clients in a million different ways. For me, she’s been more like a mother than an agent – and she’s played the same role for Australian children’s books, having shepherded several generations of writers through their formative years and out onto the world stage. She is an integral part of the industry thanks to her unerring eye for quality and her belief in the eternal value of literature.”
The ABIAs recently announced nominees Jimmy Barnes (ABIA Biography Book of the Year shortlist: Working Class Boy) and Holly Throsby (ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year shortlist: Goodwood) will perform on the big night to acknowledge a year when musician authors rocked the bestseller lists. Stan Grant will open the gala ceremony with a celebration of Australian stories in all their forms, from Indigenous communities’ storytelling traditions that have been alive for thousands of years, to great Australian books published throughout the 21st century.