On Thursday it was announced Tara June Winch had won the 2020 Miles Franklin Award for her book The Yield.
Winch’s novel was shortlisted for Australia’s most well-known literary prize along with the work of five other writers, including her mentor, Tony Birch.
The author described winning as "bittersweet", saying "I would have liked to see Tony win."
Winch was a 22-year-old single mum when she published her first novel, Swallow the Air.
The year prior she had submitted a short story to the Young Writers Award, a competition she was only aware of thanks to a small notice she spotted at the State Library of Queensland. She ended up winning second place, and her story was shared with an editor at the University of Queensland Press. Thirteen years later, her story has become a critically-acclaimed, multi-award-winning book, and one that’s still read in Australian schools today.
Speaking to Marlee Silva on Mamamia‘s Tiddas 4 Tiddas podcast, Tara shares her self-professed “super serendipitous story” on how she became a writer. Growing up, her family weren’t readers. Swallow the Air was the first book her brother had ever read, and “one of the few books” read by her mum. Her dad has still yet to read it, but despite this, Tara spent her entire teenage years writing.
“There must’ve been books around but it’s not like [we were] a family of readers… There weren’t any outside influences and I’ve never studied literature,” she says in her delicate, but self-assured voice.