We are delighted that two Affirm Press authors have been longlisted in the prestigious ARA Historical Novel Prize in the newly created category for outstanding Children and Young Adult (CYA) literature.

Debut author Amelia Mellor’s The Grandest Bookshop in the World and Nicki Greenberg’s middle-grade mystery novel The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel are both in consideration for the inaugural CYA Prize. Our heartfelt congratulations to Amelia and Nicki!

Amelia’s middle-grade novel The Grandest Bookshop in the World is set in Melbourne, 1893, in the real-life Cole’s Book Arcade – with a magical twist. Mellor’s fictionalised Cole children Pearl and Vally are thrown into stunning a race-against-time challenge in the Book Arcade, where they compete against a mysterious stranger to save their family and their home.

The book was published in October 2020 with Amelia fast becoming the number one Australian children’s fiction debut author of the year. Her captivating novel has since been awarded the ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children, the ABA Booksellers’ Choice Children’s Book of the Year, and the Indie Book Award in the Children’s category.

Amelia said, ‘Historical fiction is such a great way to engage young readers in times and places beyond their own experiences. It’s wonderful to have this prize not only endorsing me through this longlisting, but also supporting and encouraging writers of historical fiction. Thank you, Historical Novel Society! Thank you, ARA Group!’

Celebrated children’s author Nicki Greenberg made a splash in March 2021 with The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel, which regularly appeared in bestseller lists and received rave reviews from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Herald Sun, among others. Nicki’s classic whodunnit follows Pepper Stark, who has always wanted to join her father, the Captain, aboard the magnificent RMS Aquitania on a voyage to New York. She has never been allowed to set foot on her father’s ship – until now. And when a priceless jewel disappears mid-voyage, Pepper unexpectedly finds herself entangled in the crime.

Nicki said, ‘The golden age of transatlantic travel is a vanished world: the ships themselves have completely disappeared, and surprisingly few fragments remain of the millions of stories that played out on board. Researching that world, I felt a yearning for what had been lost. That feeling spurred me on to glean all the bright threads – of vernacular, technology, music, fashion, manners and mores – that I hoped would bring the story to life and make it sing.’

The ARA Historical Novel Prize is the richest genre-based literary prize in Australasia. In the CYA category, the winner will receive $30,000, while the two shortlisted authors will receive $5,000 each. The Prize considers historical fiction in which the majority of the narrative is set at least 50 years before publication.

Best of luck to Amelia, Nicki, and all the longlisted authors.