Boyle wins 2021 Text Prize for ‘Dancing Barefoot’
Victorian writer and teacher Alice Boyle has won the 2021 Text Prize for her YA novel Dancing Barefoot.
According to Text, Dancing Barefoot is ‘a story about finding love, figuring out your place in the world, and learning to embrace the changes life throws in your path’. The novel centres on Patch, who is out of place at Mountford College and has an embarrassingly persistent crush on Evie Vanhoutte, popular girl and golden child.
Evie has no idea Patch exists until one day, a chance encounter sparks a friendship that’s equal parts exhilarating, terrifying, and very, very confusing. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, Patch is also trying to avoid a vindictive school bully, forgetting to be supportive of her transitioning best friend and worrying about a potential new stepmother turning out to be the evil Baroness from The Sound of Music.
Boyle is an LGBTQIA+ writer and English teacher who has written for SBS Voices and The Stella Prize and whose short story ‘The Exchange’ was published in the Black Inc. anthology Growing Up Queer in Australia. Boyle has been highly commended for the Wheeler Centre’s Next Chapter initiative and has worked on projects including Andrew Denton’s podcast Better Off Dead.
Boyle said she is ‘honoured and thrilled’ to be awarded the 2021 Text Prize. ‘Thank you to everyone at Text for selecting my work from an exceptionally talented field, and congratulations to my fellow shortlisted authors. I began writing Dancing Barefoot because I wanted to see more lighthearted, fun, positive representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in local YA fiction, and am so excited that my book has found such a wonderful home. I can’t wait to work with the team at Text to polish my story and bring it into bookshops, libraries, and homes around the country.’
Boyle’s novel was chosen from a shortlist of seven announced earlier this month. She receives $10,000 and a publishing contract with Text. Shortlistees Ellie Casey and Emilie Morscheck were chosen as the recipients of the inaugural Steph Bowe Mentorship.
Text publisher Michael Heyward said, ‘In an outstanding shortlist, Alice Boyle’s Dancing Barefoot proved to be irresistible. From its opening sentence this novel creates a voice we want to listen to and a world that we want to be in. Alice has done the hardest thing, written a love story that is never sentimental and which never fails to move and entertain us. We laugh and cry with her characters.’
The winner of last year’s Text Prize was Andrew Paterson’s middle-grade novel Rainfish, which was published this month. In addition to Rainfish, Text also acquired world rights to four additional manuscripts shortlisted for the 2020 Text Prize.