WHAT do Loathing Lola author William Kostakis and high school student Dinusha Wijesuriya share in common?
Both have been winners in the the Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year Award and both can't help but write.
"I'd like to go to uni, but no matter what, I'd probably write on the side," Dinusha, 16, said.
The Baulkham Hills High School student cites a particular interest in "futuristic, dystopian worlds and the human mind", which is reflected in her short story The Great Collapse, chosen from more than 1000 entrants as a regional winner of the SMH annual writing competition.
The competition is open to senior school students in NSW and the ACT who submit writing based on a trigger word. This year's was "flight".
"My story is about an old man living by himself — his family is all grown up — and he's diagnosed with Alzheimer's," Dinusha said.
"He builds a machine that can replay his memories but he kind of gets addicted to that and loses track of reality, so it's sort of like him losing his mind."
Dinusha was one of 13 regional finalists from NSW to attend a presentation luncheon at the State Library of NSW.
As part of her prize, which included 10 books and stationery, Dinusha attended a writing workshop with Looking for Alibrandi author Melina Marchetta and Belinda Murrell, who wrote The Forgotten Pearl.
"Meeting them definitely makes [ a career in writing] seem more realistic, because you start to understand the process if you wanted to be published, how to go about it," Dinusha said.
She will attend a creative writing workshop at UWS.