Best Australian Yarn: From the Outside author Simone Field reveals her inspiration


Schoolteacher Simone Field has a simple and heartfelt wish for her news about little Harrison Jesse Lockhart.

“My hope and my prayer is that From the Outside sparks some hope and empathy in people,” she says.

Harrison has been labeled ‘neuro-diverse’ and Field tells his story, which made it into Australia’s Top 50 Best Sons, from his perspective as he navigates his first day of school.

It is a subject close to his heart. Field studied psychology before adding her degree in education and she has worked closely with children with special needs, including in her current Year 3 class at a small Christian school in Perth.

“I’ve studied enough to try to put myself in this position, understanding that every child’s experience will be different,” she says.

“It’s an amalgamation of observations.”

Field says the secret to success for these children is a school policy that welcomes all students and sees each child for themselves. Teachers need support and educate students to be kind.

“Mine are right,” she said.

Camera iconField has always been a reader but came to writing much later. Credit: Provided/western australia

“My class is the most compassionate and empathetic group of children I have ever encountered in 20 years of teaching. The friend in the short story is an amalgamation of some of the children in my class.

Field has always been a reader but came to writing much later.

“As soon as I started, I felt like something had opened up and I just wanted to get those things out,” she says.

“I’m not really a planner. Once the idea has germinated, I sketch some rough points, but there is no timeline or sequence.

A close friend sent her the link to the Best Australian Yarn competition, and she knew she had a story to tell. She says she didn’t think she would have a chance and is thrilled to be on the long list.

“I’m very honored and very, very excited.”

She’s also thrilled that people can read Harrison’s story.

“I hope they are able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Seeing someone react in a way you might not react doesn’t automatically cancel it. Maybe they have their own struggles.

The competition, organized by The West Australian in partnership with the Minderoo Foundation, was launched in February and allowed professional and amateur short story writers to compete for a $50,000 prize pool, the richest in the world.

Field and the other Top 50 authors now have the opportunity to win the major prize of $30,000. Nine other shortlisted finalists for the overall prize will each receive $1,000, top WA entrant $4,000, top Australian regional entry $3,000 and top youth entry $2,000.

The jury for the award is chaired by The West Australian editor Anthony De Ceglie and includes Minderoo Foundation co-founder Nicola Forrest, author Robert Drewe and editors Terri-ann White and Rachel Bin Salleh.

The winners will be announced on November 18.

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