This weekend, rugged-up in my snowman onesie (seriously), drinking mulled cider and busying myself with the always joyous task of Christmas decorating, I was interrupted, mid-tinsel, with an email notification.

A notification that put an even  bigger smile on my face.

Bigger and wider than any smile inspired by Gmail before, this notification filled me with a pride that I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed to indulge in, because the email in question was from Elisa Rolle, the founder of the Rainbow Awards – an annual competition celebrating the diverse LGBT+ writing talent across the globe – with a comprehensive list of the books receiving Honorable Mentions in this year’s awards.

And guess who made the cut. Yup: Oscar and his adventures Down Under got not just one Honorable Mention, but two! Check out the judges’ comments here.

While the winners, across a wide spectrum of genres ranging from erotica to sci-fi and much more, are yet to be announced, personally I’m blown away just by the fact my first ever book has been included in the ranks of standouts. Especially when my little, contemporary tale of self-discovery, was up against so many astounding stories from so many talented authors.

Let me put it this way. This time two years ago I decided to write a short story called Oscar, a dark and graphic articulation of the sexualised adolescence I experienced as an openly gay teen growing up in the age of the internet  (a world where meeting men was as easy as a click of the mouse and the tap of a keyboard, and discovering warped inspiration in grainy videos was even easier). Now Oscar has evolved into an Australian-based novel series, Oscar Down Under (inspired by my time living in Sydney, as well as exploring ideas of self-awareness and self-improvement) and has been praised by highly passionate, talented judges from all corners of the globe.

Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for better motivation. Nor can I thank the people involved enough for reassuring me that my dream of creating a story portraying the struggles and opportunities of modern life, isn’t just that: a dream. It’s a reality I am thrilled to be living.

A reality I couldn’t be more grateful for.

So, if anyone who was involved in the awards is reading this, please accept my thanks from the bottom of my heart. You have made 2017 one of the best years of my life. And to everyone else, if you could keep your fingers and toes crossed for me, that would be amazing: the winner’s are announced in just a few days!

For more information on the awards and all the hard work that goes into them, click here.

IMG_1138(Told you it had snowmen on)

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