Dianne Wolfer wins SCBWI award

Children’s author Dianne Wolfer was delighted to receive the 2013 Louise Schofield Award for Services to the Western Australian branch of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Established in memory of children’s author Louise Schofield, this biennial award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the children’s book writers and illustrators community via their services to SCBWI West.

At the award ceremony Dianne was described as ‘a tireless support and advocate for the sector over many years’. Here Dianne talks about why the award has such personal significance.

I believe there are some people who come into your life for a reason. People you are ‘meant to know’. I’m particularly honoured to receive this award because for me, Louise Schofield was one of those people.

I met Louise around 1991 when we both began our masters at UWA. We were studying part-time juggling writing, work and being parents of teenagers. We each had a child the same age studying music. We shared an interest in trekking and had both hiked in Nepal. Though we were published authors, it was early days in our writing careers.

Louise and I were involved in the Northcliffe Understory project and our friendship continued through our work with SCBWI. She was a wonderful person who, as well as publishing many children’s titles, gave much to the WA writing community. In the early years, Louise helped make the first SCBWI conference a huge success. She helped plan the first Rottnest Retreat and wrote an internationally published article about the Books Moove Me cow (now at the State Library). Louise also established the Mundaring-based heARTlines program.

When writing this, I trawled back through emails and photos – it was bittersweet. There were hundreds of emails that went back and forth as we prepared for our first big SCBWI conference. Then I read an email Louise sent a day before the conference. In it she mentioned an abnormal mammogram result. You would never have known of her worries though because, as usual, Louise was thinking of others that day.

I’ve been a member of many excellent arts organisations (and still am) but SCBWI is special. SCBWI West is such a friendly, supportive group. The combination of writers and illustrators, both with a focus on creating work to inspire young readers, is unusual. One of my greatest passions is fostering a love of books in children and this fits perfectly with the aims of the SCBWI.

Louise’s daughter Zahra presented me with the award at the State Library. I have known Zahra since she was a teenager and this made the evening particularly special for me.

Dianne Wolfer’s latest book is Light Horse Boy.

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