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Gay YA rom-com wins 2020 Ampersand Prize

Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (HGCP) has announced that Auckland teacher and writer Helen Valley has won the 2020 Ampersand Prize for her YA novel Tim Te Maro and the Subterranean Heartsick Blues.

Valley’s gay YA romantic comedy, chosen from a shortlist of five, is set at a magical boarding school in New Zealand and follows two boys who ditch their exes to team up for the annual egg-baby experiment.

Valley said: ‘It’s still a bit surreal to have won. I keep forgetting and when I remember, cracking up laughing and not being able to tell anyone why. The thought of Tim and Elliott being out in the world is bizarre. I’m not 100% convinced this isn’t an elaborate prank!’

‘There are many wonderful queer romantic comedies being published right now, but none are as original, gripping, or magical as this one,’ said HGCP publishing director Marisa Pintado. ‘So much so that we’re crashing it into 2021, because what the world needs now is love that looks like Tim and Elliott’s. I can’t wait to publish it!’

Valley joins previous winners including Frances Chapman, Lisa Siberry, Melissa Keil and Erin Gough.

HCGP will publish Tim Te Maro and the Subterranean Heartsick Blues in August 2021.


Category: Awards Junior Local news