Amra 3

A St Albans author is all smiles because a book she co-edited has been shortlisted for a national award.

Amra Pajalic and Victoria University lecturer Demet Divaroren spent two years working on Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia, which explores the experiences of 12 people – including a beauty queen, a kickboxer, a lawyer, a rugby league star, an activist, a writer, a lesbian and an atheist.

The book was recently shortlisted for non-fiction book of the year in the 2015 Children’s Book Council awards.

Ms Pajalic, who teaches English and humanities at her former high school, St Albans Secondary College, says she’s “incredibly proud” of the book’s success.

“To have it recognised – I can’t even say how happy it’s made me,” she said. “In Australia alone, Muslim people come from 70 different countries. People need to understand that there are people from Bosnia who are Muslim, people from Bangladesh who are Muslim … there’s no such thing as a universal Muslim experience.”

Ms Pajalic devoted more than a decade to being a full-time writer, winning the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Civic Choice Award for her debut novel, The Good Daughter, and also penning children’s novel Amir: Friend on Loan.

She recently completed a graduate diploma in teaching and became a high school teacher last year. These days, she devotes her weekends and school holidays to writing.

“It’s just a matter of creating a habit,” she said. “Write every week and get at least one chapter done.”

Charlene Macaulay