Sparklit has been a part of helping Christian writing that changes lives for more than ten years. The Australian Christian Books of the Year for 2022 have just been announced, and the overall winner is Tony Rinaudo’s “The Forest Underground: Hope for a Planet in Crisis.”
Michael Collie from Sparklit recently joined us on 20Twenty to talk about the quality of Australian authors, and the calibre of the entrants. He believes this is one of the strongest years yet, with a fabulous range of genres including biography, theology and apologetics.
‘There’s also an illustrated book for children,’ says Michael. ‘But it’s actually not just for children. It’s a very simple but deep and moving book called, “Adopted in Love.” But all the authors were very articulate, as articulate in person as they are in writing.’
One of the reasons “The Forest Underground: Hope for a Planet in Crisis” was chosen is that it very much reflects the character of the author, who has a very humble and irresistible character. The book is warm and hopeful, and the judges were quite moved during the deliberation.
A Moving and Hopeful Story
‘The majority of the book relates Tony’s experiences as a missionary in Africa,’ says Michael. ‘It begins as he recounts his childhood experience growing up in north east Victoria. His grandparents worked in the tobacco growing industry, and from a young age Tony was appalled by the way people treated the environment. As a child, he prayed that God might use him somehow to make a difference. The story in the book is how God answered that prayer, and it’s a breathtaking adventure.’
All the awards are announced by reading an extract from the winning work. The awards for Young Christian Writer and Teen Christian Writer are designed to encourage people into a publishing career, an industry where you can have an influential impact by writing good works.
Young author Rachael Board won Teen Writer of the Year with her book “To Be Like Him”. She describes a young adolescent’s journey through tragedy to relationship with God. The main character wrestles with the grief of losing her brother, but also has to come to terms with her brother’s God.
‘The brother dies and the surviving sister is not a Christian,’ says Michael. ‘She has to grapple with the loss of her brother, but also what her brother believed in, and hence the double meaning of the title “To Be Like Him.” The death of her brother actually provokes a search for God.’
This year was the first time that three authors and former winners were also the judges. Michael says it was great having people who know what it takes to write a Christian Book of the year. They came from a diverse ranges of backgrounds, including a pastor and former CEO of the Bible Society.
‘We’ve already processed several entries for next year’s awards too,’ says Michael. ‘The awards are gaining traction which is fantastic.’