A few months ago I wrote this post, which I ended with suggesting that the Sunday Star-Times short story competition, which is arguably New Zealand's highest-profile competition, should perhaps think about employing a different judge. I was worried that employing the same judge year after year would lead to writers tailoring their stories to one person's taste, and that the fact that those stories get published in the newspaper and exposed to so many readers might produce a uniformity in the types of stories that are considered excellent. I was worried that diversity might be at risk.
This year, Owen Marshall is no longer judging the competition; Stephanie Johnson is. I am delighted. No doubt she will have different ideas to Owen as to what constitutes good writing, and I for one welcome the change. Who knows why they changed, whether they had intended to have someone different all along, or whether Mr Marshall wasn't available this year, or whether the organisers had heard my small mumblings from cyber-space and it gave them some food for thought.