Peppermint Grove Beach resident and ECU PhD graduate Dr Josh Kemp has won the emerging writer category at the 2023 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards for his debut novel Banjawarn. Banjawarn follows the character Garreth Hoyle, described as a “true crime writer whose destructive love affair with hallucinogenic drugs has sent him searching for ghosts in the unforgiving mallee desert of WA”. This is the third award for Dr Kemp and Banjawarn, having previously been named co-winner of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award and 2022 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction. Dr Kemp said receiving the award was a big surprise and huge honour. “The WA Premier’s Prizes are so prestigious and usually reserved for literary works, so I’m considering this a win for genre writers,” he said. “While Banjawarn does have a strong literary quality, it’s still very strongly a gothic crime novel. “I hope other emerging authors of genre fiction will be as excited by this as I am.” When asked if he had one piece of advice for aspiring writers, Dr Kemp replied: “Write short fiction”. “Even if writing short fiction isn’t your passion, it’s a great way to get your name and work noticed and will prove that you can produce publishable work when it’s time to submit a novel for consideration,” he said. Dr Kemp’s latest manuscript Jasper Cliff, which was recently shortlisted for a 2023 Fogarty Literary Award, is scheduled to be published by Fremantle Press in July 2024.