Tag Archives: competitions

Competition: The Girl Who Was on Fire

There were two writers who absolutely set me on fire in 2011. One of those was Suzanne Collins and her brilliant (and traumatising) trilogy The Hunger Games. The other was the fabulous Mary Borsellino, with The Devil’s Mixtape. Mary Borsellino sets me on fire every year, actually, although her work is much less widely known than Collins’s. (Her series The Wolf House has been rereleased, if you like your vampires and your punk rock simultaneously.)

Where these two wonderful little literary arsonists meet is in The Girl Who Was on Fire, a fabulous set of essays about themes and ideas in The Hunger Games books, including Your Heart is a Weapon the Size of Your Fist, by Borsellino.

I reviewed these essays last year. As I said at the time:

“Everything in this book either brings elements I was aware of into sharp focus or reveals new themes and interpretations to me. With each essay, though, I responded with variations of “Yes! Exactly! YES!”

Now I have (courtesy of Mary Borsellino) two copies of the collection to give away, plus a copy of the first book in the trilogy.

The trick with a Hunger Games-related competition, of course, is to think of a competition that is engaging but not too difficult, but which doesn’t cheapen the themes and ideas which I find so moving and thought-provoking. So – no Hunger Games recipes, no suggestions for what your last meal would be, nothing as obvious as that.

Instead, I would love for people to write to me to tell me who your favourite character was (in any of teh three books) and why. Did you love or hate them? Did they move you? Did a character change the way you thought about something, open your eyes to a new idea, or did they inspire you to try something new (like archery, or baking?)

So that’s it.


Write and tell me in 300 words or less which character from The Hunger Games made the most impact on you and why.

Email your replies to narrelle@iwriter.com.au.


The top entry will receive the Movie Edition of The Girl Who Was on Fire, which contains extra essays.

The second best entry will receive teh standard edition of The Girl Who Was on Fire.

The third best entry will get a copy of The Hunger Games


Conditions of entry:

It is a condition of entry that I may use your answer or part thereof (quoting you) in my blog, which will be online indefinitely. I’m happy to attach an alias to any quotes, but you need to let me know both your real name and preferred alias in your entry.

  • The competition will be open for two weeks, from Wednesday 4th July to Wednesday 18th July 2012.
  • I will select the winning entry that week and post the result, along with extracts from all entries, on Monday 23rd July 2012.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, iPhone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

Outland Competition: Our Secret Lives

A few blogs ago, I talked about the secrets we have. They’re not necessarily scurrilous or smutty or illegal. They’re just the parts of our lives we keep segregated from other areas, maybe because we think other people will laugh.

In the Outland TV series, the characters are all out and comfortable with their sexuality, but they are very much in the closet about being SF nerds.

The fact is, many nerds working in a more mainstream environment prefer to keep their nerdery to themselves. I used to, but mostly I don’t much care what people think about my nerdery these days. On the other hand, my lovely geek friends can be less than understanding about my enjoyment of shows like Glee.

A friend of mine refuses to use the term ‘guilty pleasure’. Either you like someting or you don’t, and there’s no point in feeling guilty about the things you like. (Well, unless they’re unethical, maybe.)

Or, in the words of Andy in episode 3, “You probably think there’s some grand reason for all this, but the truth is, Rae, people like what they like. Don’t complicate it.”

In the spirit of ‘you like what you like’, thank you to everyone who entered the competition for a copy of the Outland DVD. I hope you continue to like what you like, and can do so openly without fear of scorn or ridicule from people who almost certainly have their own secrets.

Among the entries, Philip admitted that “my secret passion is homoerotic romances, cause I like to be a private person”, and fair enough.

Jason shared: “While at High school I was captain of the Rugby team and Head Boy of my school. Little did most people know my secret… That I was a HUGE science fiction nerd, read scientific journals and all, oh and yea also I am gay… I think I would have got more crap over being a sci fi nerd than gay – lol!”

But the winner of the competition is P, who tells the following story.

“My secret isn’t that I’m a nerd and a geek. I’m very open about that – I even have Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica posters over my desk in my classroom (I teach primary school). My secret is that I like to read trashy romance – of many different subgenres. *Really* trashy stuff. I generally hide this from most groups in my life.

I’ve very selective who within my geek circles knows, as Trashy Romance is seen as the lowest of the low by many of the people I know into who are into books. Telling people I enjoy reading the Anita Blake series or the Sookie Stackhouse series ’cause of the sex and romance earns me funny looks from many geeks, who think I should be reading stuff of ‘higher literary value’. Yes, even geeks can be snobs.

And then there’s my geek friends who are also feminist and feel strongly about romance novels. Some of them might has a few issues with the geek-themed stuff, but they can go on for hours about Mills & Boon/Harlequin style romance novels. I consider myself feminist too, but my own brand of it allows to take guilty pleasure in reading trashy romances with many things I shouldn’t be enjoying, but some other people’s standards, again. It’s kind of like eating fast food; you know it’s not terribly good for you, but it tastes so good you’ll do it anyway.

On top of that, there’s me being a teacher. No way can I admit publicly to my passion for word porn at school. We teachers are supposed to be good, pure, straight, monogamous and asexual remember? No way can we admit we might be reading books full of raunchy stuff. Especially since as well as the Geek romance and the Mills & Boon, I like the queer trashy romances as well. Two guys in love, getting it on? Hot. As. Three guys getting it on? Even hotter.

I can’t tell a lot of my family either. I have a lot of Very Uptight Religious family members and it’s just best they don’t know. I can admit to the mystery novels, or the science fiction novels. If I said I liked Twilight people wouldn’t look at me as weird… but if I admit I like romances heavy on the sex? I’m the weirdo.

And that’s my secret.”

Your secret is safe with us, P, and I promise I won’t judge you. I’m not a huge fan of the romance genre usually, but I recently discovered Anne Gracie (recommended to me by smart, feminist geek-type readers) and I love her work.

Perhaps we should all pledge ourselves to the principle that we may not like to read the same things others like to read, but we will defend to the death their right to read it!

Thanks again to those who joined in, and to those with secret lives! If you missed it, you can get Outland from the ABC shop.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, iPhone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.