By TIFFANY MARIE MERVIN
THE phrase “Helping Hands” could
mean anything from lending a hand to
those in need or even about the kind
souls at a charity organisation, but the creative interpretation of an 18-year-old won the hearts of judges of the IMPAC Dublin
Literary Award. Lianne Letitia Ritchie’s idea of “Helping Hands” was the story of one that helped without hands
“I wanted to write a story that contradicted
the title given and I came up with the
story of a character without both his arms,”
Given her strong admiration for the disabled, it was most natural for Lianne to have such a character star in her story.
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT: An ecstatic Lianne poses for the camera during the interview.
“I am very compassionate towards the
disabled, especially those who have physical
disabilities. I really respect them,” offered Lianne.
Upon coming up with the idea, Lianne
asked around for input.
”I told my dad about the story and he
laughed because it contradicted the title,”
Nevertheless, she went ahead with the
idea and started jotting down parts of the
story during her free time while serving at the National Service (NS).
“I wouldn’t have entered the competition if a friend had not called and informed
me of the competition while I was at camp,” said Lianne. It was not difficult for her to juggle her camp activities and writing.
“I wrote whenever I had time in between activities.
I’m the kind that isn’t easily distracted when writing so that helped a lot.”
Besides finishing her story, Lianne had also managed to write a few songs while still at camp.
“My friends at camp knew not to disturb me
when I was with my notebook, and that’s how I got so much writing done,” said Lianne.
After returning from NS, Lianne allowed a few people to read through her finished
essay for errors.
“Although I had finished the story at NS camp, the editing was done when I was home but the first part of the story was left unedited,” beamed Lianne.
Lianne had submitted an entry for last
year’s competition in which she won the
Merit Award. Her story was another contradiction but of the title “If I could change the world”. Although she did not bag the prize for that story, it did not deter her from submitting an entry again this year.
“I would only submit a story if I’m sure
it’s good and since I felt this story was good, I saw no harm in submitting it,” said the Hospitality and Tourism student, who was
the editor of her high school magazine.
She is also a BRATs, having joined The
Star’s young journalist programme last year.
“I would love to try travel journalism
since my writing style is more towards narrative with lots of descriptions.”
with her parents during the prize giving ceremony where she read out her winning entry.
Lianne’s passion for writing and her compassion for the disabled have earned her
and her mother a trip to Dublin.
“This trip will be a long awaited family
holiday. We’re trying to arrange for my dad
to be in Dublin with us,” said Lianne. Of all the places she would be touring in Dublin, Lianne had listed a ninjutsu dojo as the place she is looking forward to visiting.
“I love martial arts and I’ve been doing
ninjutsu for some time so I’m really interested in visiting the dojo there,” explained Lianne.
For Lianne, the news of the win have yet
to sink in.
“I still can’t believe I won. I did not expect to win at all,” says an amused Lianne.