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Newcastle author wins New York City Big Book Award

Local author, Leanne Murner has picked up a 2021 New York City Big Book Award for Franki and the Banksia.

“Winning this award brought tears to my eyes, I just could not believe this was happening, I was for once in my life lost for words,” Leanne said.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Leanne though. She struggled with a negative mindset for many years which made it hard to start her own business and celebrate her achievements.

“Being told I would not go anywhere in life or amount to anything has really been a big struggle for me as a child and now into my adult life,” Leanne said.

“I had someone once say to me how can you run a business if you have no qualifications. These two things have always played a huge role in my life decisions, every opportunity brought forward to me always had me thinking I was not worthy or deserving of achieving them and let them pass me by. This mindset really played a huge part in falling out of love with what I was doing in my then current business and was not allowing me to step up and succeed.”

When the pandemic struck Leanne had to close down a timber business she was running and her family lost their main income overnight.

But Leanne’s side hustle, 5 Little Bears grew by 400 per cent because parents needed education resources during lockdown. And then Leanne found herself waking up at 4am to writeFranki and the Banksia.

“This book is a journey of one of my boys discovering an Australian native plant and its importance, what it needs and who needs it to survive,” Leanne explained.

You can purchase a copy ofFranki and the Banksia by visiting