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SINGAPORE – A story of a mysterious disease that wrecks the world has won Singaporean writer Sarah Ang, 21, an adventure writing prize from bestselling novelist Wilbur Smith.

Last Wednesday (Sept 9), she was awarded the £1,000 (S$1,750) Author of Tomorrow prize from the London-based Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation, set up by the British author of the Courtney and Ballantyne sagas and his wife.

The annual competition is open to short pieces of adventure writing in English from writers aged 21 and under from around the world. Ten works were shortlisted across three age categories from almost 600 entries from around the world.

Ang won the category for ages 16 to 21 with her post-apocalyptic story Pearl Diving, which is available for free at read.worldreader.org (on mobile phone or tablet).

"I was incredibly thrilled to hear of my win, because this story meant so much to me and I poured a lot of myself into it," she says in an e-mail interview.

Her protagonist, Pearl, loves diving in the ocean like the ama, or Japanese pearl divers of yore.

As a deadly disease devastates the world, she is left to care for her sister, who has fallen sick, after their mother, a marine biologist, goes missing.

Ang, who is studying English literature at University College London but is now back in Singapore due to Covid-19, drew on the pandemic for inspiration.

"Seeing news reports about the chaos and hearing heart-wrenching stories about people who lost their loved ones and didn't get to say goodbye, much like Pearl and her mother, made me imagine what it would be like to have a loved one suffering from the disease," she says.

"But it is also more than a pandemic story. I think the main character's grappling with loss, the bonds of family and central struggle with a difficult choice are things that transcend Covid-19."

She has been scribbling stories since she was six years old and has won a number of writing competitions here and abroad, such as the 2016 Read More – Source

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