All the fisticuffs over this year's Montana Book Awards are at an end, and the winner of this country's highest accolade was named last week. Charlotte Grimshaw, daughter of local literary heavyweight C.K. Stead, has well and truly inherited the family business by taking home the Montana Medal for Opportunity, a collection of short stories.
Grimshaw, currently holidaying in Europe with her lawyer husband and three kids, admits to being quietly thrilled at bagging what she refers to as "the prize".
The stories in Opportunity reflect the layers of our society; there's the tough girl who ends up working in a brothel, the bored wife who's obsessed with murder cases, the author who loathes her next-door neighbour. She takes her characters and tangles them together, criss-crossing their lives as the stories progress. "I think of it more as a novel," she says. "It's more unified than a collection of short stories. It's supposed to be a description of the New Zealand voice. That's why it's all written in the first person."
Grimshaw has managed to peel back the roofs from houses all over Auckland and take us, not just inside the lives of the inhabitants, but inside their minds. Grimshaw has already written a sequel to Opportunity and is excited that it's been picked up by a UK publisher. And she's already started on a new novel she describes as, "a really strange idea I think might work".
Being the daughter of a literary luminary is not something she has ever let bother her.
"It's just my particular situation," she says. "It's always seemed less significant to me than it is to other people."
Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry winner and Fiction category winner:
Opportunity by Charlotte Grimshaw (Random House)
Poetry winner: Cold Snack by Janet Charman (Auckland University Press)
Montana Medal for Non-Fiction winner and Environment category winner: Wetlands of New Zealand: A Bitter-sweet Story by Janet Hunt (Random House)
Biography winner: The Life and Times of James Walter Chapman-Taylor by Judy Siers (Millwood Heritage Productions Ltd)
History winner: Te Tau Ihu O Te Waka Volume II: Te Ara Hou The New Society by Hilary and John Mitchell (Huia Publishers)
Reference and Anthology winner: A Nest of Singing Birds: 100 years of the New Zealand School Journal by Gregory OBrien (Learning Media Ltd)
Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture winner: Mau Moko: The World of Maori Tattoo by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku with Linda Waimarie Nikora, Mohi Rua and Rolinda Karapu (Penguin)
Illustrative winner: Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning by Jennifer Hay, with Ron Brownson, Chris Knox and Laurence Aberhart, designed by Aaron Beehre (Christchurch Art Gallery)
The NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction: The Blue by Mary McCallum (Penguin)
NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry: Incognito, by Jessica Le Bas
The NZSA E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction: The Great Sacred Forest of Tane Te Wao Tapu Nui a Tane: A Natural Pre-History of Aotearoa New Zealand by Alan Clarke (Reed Publishing).