Finalist a happy loser to legend

Den Scheer with her illustrations and the book in which she was published. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d377749
Den Scheer with her illustrations and the book in which she was published. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d377749

The 20-year-old Curtin University student’s debut picture book, In the Beech Forest, did not win the top prize in the Best Children’s Fiction (told primarily through pictures) category ” that honour went to Graeme Base’s Little Elephants ” but Ms Scheer said she was happy to lose to Base, whose books she grew up reading.

‘It felt great just to be a finalist,’ she said. ‘Considering Graeme’s track record ” he has sold more than three million copies of Animalia ” he’s not a bad person to lose to,’ she said.

Ms Scheer was scouted to illustrate In the Beech Forest at the Young Australian Artist of the Year awards, at which she won three titles.

The book is a collaboration with author Gary Crew and tells the story of a boy who takes a path leading him from the safety of his home into a dark forest.

The illustrations focus on dark images in the boy’s imagination, which stem from his computer game battles.

Now studying fine arts at Curtin University, Ms Scheer said she hoped to do full-time writing and illustrating.

She is already working on a few more books, including several illustrated novels.

Ms Scheer said her isolated Wheatbelt farm upbringing had been a major influence on her creative development.

‘There wasn’t much TV, but I did watch a lot of Art Attack and Mr Squiggle and tried to copy everything they did,’ she said.

The Aurealis Awards were announced last Saturday at the Independent Theatre in Sydney. They recognise the achievements of science fiction, fantasy and horror authors across the nation. There were more than 750 entries last year.