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Awarding Recordings

The Royal Blind Society has won the 1996 TDK Australian Audio Book Award for their production of Tim Winton's famous novel, The Riders. The narrator of this audio book is Geoff Cartwright, whose naturally warm voice tells the story in a lively and well characterised performance. Geoff Cartwright is a successful professional performer in theatre, film and television. His television credits include roles in 'Police Rescue', 'A Country Practice' and an ABC program called 'Fresh Start', which is an adult literacy program. This audio book was also the winner in the unabridged fiction category. Short listed for the 1995 Booker Prize, The Riders is about an Australian, Fred Scully, who decides to move his family from Perth to Ireland but once there his life changes in a way which takes him on an odyssey across Europe with his daughter as he searches for his wife following her mysterious disappearance.

Winner of the abridged fiction category was ABC Enterprises for a production of Foxspell, a novel for younger readers by Gillian Rubinstein, which deals with the transition from childhood to adolescence. Through his contact with the animal world, the principal character, Tod, discovers new strengths and talents-until one day he finds he has to choose between two very different worlds. The narrator is Heather Steen, who gives a lively and evocative performance. Heather Steen has had many years experience as a writer and actor in theatre, film and television.

Non-fiction Winners
Louis Braille Books won the unabridged non-fiction category for their production of Home Before Dark. This biography of the great Australian boxing hero, Les Darcy, is by Ruth Park and Rafe Champion. The authors seek to find the real person behind the myths and misinformation that have accumulated about his life. The narrator, David Hosking, has a warm Australian accent and inflection that is just right for this text. Peter Hosking has been acting in theatre, film and television for many years and has been narrating audio books since 1985.

The abridged non-fiction category winner was Information Alternative for Kitchen Capers, a collection of recipes from the Australian Women's Weekly. The friendliness and neighbourliness of Victoria Howell's narration makes this production not only useful but enjoyable. Victoria Howell has been interested and active in amateur theatre and voice work for many years and is an Audio Production Assistant at the Talking Book Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind.

A special award for an outstanding production aimed at a younger market went to Bolinda Audio Books for their entry of an early Tim Winton novel, That Eye, The Sky. The narrator, Stig Wemyss, was an excellent choice because his voice is ideally suited to a young audience and his exuberant and well-paced narration maintain the listener's interest throughout. That Eye, The Sky is about a boy's vision of the world beyond that of his immediate experience and the blurry distinction between the natural and supernatural.

An Author's Response
The popularity of Tim Winton's writing is reflected in the awards, with both an early and a recent work represented among the prize winners. Tim Winton is delighted to see his books having a fresh life in another form. He says:

"Any means of making books more accessible to people is a cause for celebration. Any barrier that can be scrambled across should be used and audio books constitute something rather better than a mere scrambling. They are an elegant and dignified border crossing. For the sight-impaired, the long distance driver or the bone lazy booklover who has never cast off the childhood pleasure of being read to, they are a terrific alternative means of having literature in your life."

The TDK Australian Audio Book Award is administered by the National Library of Australia and is the only award in Australia for producers and publishers of books in audio format. This is the award's eighth year and it has been very rewarding to see the improvement in audio book production since its inception.

Both the short-listed audio publications and the winners provide a microcosm of what is happening in audio book production in Australia. The strong producers of unabridged works in audio format continue to be those organisations which traditionally have served the needs of people who are blind or have other print disabilities. These organisations include the blind societies in various states and libraries specifically serving the needs of these people. There are also other specialist producers such as Redfern Legal Centre Publishing and educational institutions entering the field. Mainstream commercial publishers are the other producers of audio books and ABC Enterprises is the largest commercial producer. Apart from some children's books, most commercial audio publications are abridged or adapted versions of print format books. An exception is Bolinda Audio Books, which was one of the prize winners. This publisher is fully commercial and has an unabridged audio range devoted entirely to Australian authors and/or Australian content. Productions by Louis Braille Books, which are also unabridged, are commercially available to tax exempt organisations.

High Standard of Entries
The judging panel said all entries received for the 1996 award were of a very high standard, with some quite outstanding. They made special mention of the cumulative improvement in the quality of the narration, with 'more good readers than ever before' and the sound quality was of the 'highest standard so far'.

Redfern Legal Centre Publishing received a special commendation for their production of Surviving Rape: A Handbook about Rape for Survivors, Family, Friends and Workers. The book was written by the Sydney Rape Crisis Centre and Julie Vuletic is the narrator of the audio production. Julie Vuletic has had a successful career in theatre, film and television and she gives a cool, clear narration of highly charged material which is sensitive without being overly emotive.

The Trish Trinick Prize for the best-selling audio book in Australia was won by Reed for Kids for their production of Pocahontas. This delightful children's book is classic Walt Disney. The many children who have seen the movie can continue to enjoy the story through this sparkling audio production.

The awards were presented by well-known broadcaster and writer, Robert Dessaix, at a gala function at Old Parliament House in Canberra on 12 November.

TDK Australian Audio Book Award Winners 1996

Overall Winner and Winner of Unabridged Fiction
The Riders by Tim Winton
narrated by Geoff Cartwright
Royal Blind Society

Abridged Fiction
Foxspell by Gillian Rubinstein
narrated by Heather Steen
ABC Enterprises

Unabridged Non-fiction
Home Before Dark by Ruth Park and Rafe Champion
narrated by Peter Hosking
Louis Braille Books

Abridged Non-fiction
Kitchen Capers by Australian Women's Weekly
narrated by Victoria Howell
Information Alternatives

Overall Winner
The Riders by Tim Winton
narrated by Geoff Cartwright
Royal Blind Society

Special Award for an Audio Book of Outstanding Quality Aimed at a Younger Market
That Eye, The Sky by Tim Winton
narrated by Stig Wemyss
Bolinda Audio Books

Special Commendation for an Outstanding Non-winning Entry
Surviving Rape: A Handbook about Rape for Survivors, Family, Friends and Workers
by Sydney Rape Crisis Centre
narrated by Jenny Vuletic
Redfern Legal Centre Publishing

1996 Trish Trinick Prize for Best-Selling Audio Book in Australia Short List

Unabridged Fiction
The Riders by Tim Winton
narrated by Stanley McGeagh
Bolinda Audio Books

Abridged Fiction
Pocahantas by various authors and narrators
Reed for Kids

Unabridged Non-fiction
Mary McKillop Unveiled
by Lesley O'Brien
narrated by Jenny Seedsman
Bolinda Audio Books

Abridged Non-fiction
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
by John Gray
narrated by the author

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