In Year 9 at Katikati College, Ashleigh Templeton likes to draw, play hockey and squash, and read vampire stories. It turns out Ashleigh’s also a pretty good writer, winning the Year 8 section in last year’s Beyond This Age national writing competition with her fantasy suspense story, Mirror Mirror, which is to be released this week in Beyond This Age a collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror stories by New Zealand intermediate students.
Initially, Ashleigh’s story started out as something the class was doing, part of their school work, but Ashleigh says she took the story home and did lots of work on it, discovering that writing was ‘quite fun.’ That doesn’t mean to say it was easy. Ashleigh admits that she finds finishing stories hard, a problem encountered by many more experienced writers. However she offers this writing tip for other young writers: ‘Put your writing away and think about it for a while, and then come back to it.’
Ashleigh has two younger siblings, a brother and a sister, but she hasn’t included either one of them in her prize-winning story. Instead, in the tradition of famous stories such as Snow White and Alice through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll), Ashleigh’s story explores the sinister ‘side’ of mirrors, everyday objects found in almost every room of the house.
‘Mirrors are quite creepy,’ Ashleigh says. ‘I always wonder what’s on the other side of a mirror because you don’t actually know.’
What does she think about the experience of entering a competition for the first time?
‘Entering the competition was amazing – having a story published. It’s amazing having a book finished, something that other people can enjoy.’ Ashleigh says she didn’t have any particular readers in mind – just other kids her age. She’ll says definitely be entering some more competitions.
Beyond This Age is a writing competition for intermediate school students held annually in Term 4 with the best stories (chosen by a panel of writers) included in an anthology of the same name. If you’d to know more about writing competitions for students take a peek on email@example.com If you’d like to read Ashleigh’s story and others like it, go to www.oceanbooks.co.nz or ask your librarian for a copy of Beyond This Age.