See the interview with first place Best of the Best Jan Ackerson here, and second place Kate Mackereth here.

Lucy Steel has been entering the FaithWriters Writing Challenge for a couple years off and on. And this time, her teen entry Orange is the Colour of Friendship was recognized as the third place winner in FaithWriters’ Annual Best of the Best.  Read on to learn more about this Aussie’s love of the outdoors, her winning piece, what “namesake” author inspired her to write, and more.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your third place win! What was your reaction when you found out you were chosen as third place in Best of the Best?

LUCY STEEL: I was very excited! There are a lot of talented writers on FaithWriters, so I felt honoured that one of my stories was selected. It’s also encouraged me to keep writing – I have a habit of letting ‘life’ take over and not entering the challenge for months – this third place win has given me an extra boost of enthusiasm to keep writing regularly.

JOANNE: Winning DOES have a way of doing that, doesn’t it? Your winning piece, Orange is the Colour of Friendship, feels real to teenage life. Was it based on personal experience? Where did you get the idea for this piece? How did it come together for you? Any particular struggles getting it the way you liked it?

LUCY: The character of Jacqueline was actually loosely based on my friend – who shares the same name. My friend Jacqueline loves the colour orange and jokingly refers to herself as amazing and a supermodel.  Jacqueline told me that if I wrote a story about her it would ‘go places’ – I guess she was right!

While the situation wasn’t based on personal experience, I think that many teenagers have at some point felt lonely and isolated, or felt that they have no friends. I liked the idea of the popular person befriending the loner and enjoyed writing about a slightly ridiculous situation with the fake tan.

I don’t remember any particular struggles when writing the story. I pictured my old high school when writing it, which was still very vivid in my mind – although high school was a long time ago!

JOANNE: I love the way you brought those two folks together! You have been entering the challenge off and on for the past couple years. How did you find FaithWriters, and what made you stick around?

LUCY: A couple of years ago, I joined a writers group and soon after Deb Porter came to speak at it. She talked about FaithWriters and it sounded like just what I needed to begin writing properly and hone my writing skills.  When I began entering the challenge I found that people were so encouraging, but also gave useful feedback. FaithWriters really was the platform I needed to get me writing – and doing well in the challenges helped me to believe in myself as a ‘real’ writer.

FaithWriters is a great way for budding or seasoned writers to further develop their writing skills. The word limit makes you think carefully about the words you choose and gives you skills in crafting concise, punchy sentences. I see FaithWriters as God’s gift to me, because if I hadn’t had found it I probably still wouldn’t be writing today.

JOANNE: I am VERY glad, then, that you found us! Have you always enjoyed writing, or is it something that developed later?

LUCY: I loved reading from a young age and wanting to write stemmed from my love of books. I think reading Anne of Green Gables cemented my desire to write. The characters were wonderful and the book was well written, and the author had the same name as me… it all seemed to be a sign that I should write!

Apart from writing some stories in school, I didn’t start writing properly until a couple of years ago. However, for about ten years I’ve sensed that writing was part of God’s plan for me.

JOANNE: Good for you for responding to His direction. How about reading? What’s your favorite type of book to read? Who are your favorite authors?

LUCY: Some favourite classic authors are the Brontes and Jane Austen. I recently travelled to Haworth, the birth place of the Brontes, and did a walk along the moors to the ‘Bronte Waterfall’ where Emily spent time thinking about Wuthering Heights. The place is beautiful.

I also like other classic authors like George Orwell, John Steinbeck and Agatha Christie.

Christian authors that I like are Francine Rivers and CS Lewis.

In terms of other modern authors, I love Liane Moriarty and Nick Hornby. I like Graeme Simpson’s ‘The Rosie Project’ and other novels that are humorous, but also have a poignant point and characters that grow and learn.

JOANNE: Sounds like a pretty good variety 🙂 Tell us a bit about you and your family. What are your hopes and dreams for the future, both personally and professionally?

LUCY: I’ve lived in Australia most of my life, although I was born in South Africa. Having extended family in South Africa and also England meant we travelled a lot when I was young – and travelling is still one of my favourite things to do.

I now live in Sydney with my husband. I love the outdoors and a perfect day for me is spent at the beach. In terms of hopes and dreams for the future, I’d like to write a book (of course!) and travel to the Galapagos Islands. I’d like to get better at saying to God your will be done and really trusting Him through it.

JOANNE: I would say most of us have that same desire regarding trusting God. It’s tougher than it sounds ;). Where can folks connect with you?

LUCY: My FaithWriters profile page has all of my challenge articles so far – feel free to connect with me there.

JOANNE: Great – thanks so much, Lucy, for sharing, and congratulations again on the win. We will definitely be watching for your next lovely entry!

The challenge is on a one-week break, but will start up again with a new topic on Thursday. Give entering a try – you could be a winner next year!

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