I am now the Glen Dimplex New Writer of The Year.
Let me explain.
The Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Awards are wonderful things. Organised by the Irish Writers Centre, they offer financial support and promotion for writers at the beginning of their career. There are five categories: Fiction, Poetry, Non-Fiction, Children’s and Irish Language, and an overall winner who gets a whopping 20,000 Euros to take home.
I was very excited to hear that Ways to Live Forever had been shortlisted for the children’s category, mainly because Scholastic paid for me to go over to Ireland and wear a ball gown at a fancy awards ceremony in Dublin, which doesn’t happen very often if you live behind a computer screen like I do. I didn’t really expect to win anything, but I had lots of fun looking around Dublin and drinking tea with the other authors on the children’s shortlist.
When I arrived at the ceremony, I got grabbed by a photographer for some photos, and then sat down for dinner next to a gentleman reading a copy of my book. “Hmm,” I thought. “I wonder if I’ve won the children’s prize.” And then I did, and it was very exciting, and they gave me 5,000 Euros and we all had a break for coffee and cake before they announced the main prize.
Now, children’s books never win the main prize. A children’s book has never won the Glen Dimplex Award before, and only one has ever won the Costa Book Award (and that was by Philip Pullman). “I wonder who’ll win this one,” I thought, happily nibbling on my cake and clutching my prize certificate.
And then I did.
The judges said lots of lovely things about Ways to Live Forever: “I hope it’s a tribute to this book, and to Sally Nicholls, to say that for me it stopped being a work of fiction after only a few chapters -Sam, and Felix, and their parents took on flesh – you just know that in real life they are out there, close by. It’s a book that reveals a new author of great promise. And I dare to predict that in time this will become a children’s classic.”
I spent the rest of the night with people going, “Congratulations!” and me sort of bobbing and going, “Thank you very much!” In the end I escaped outside and rang Tom, who burst out laughing in this lovely, happy way, which was perfect.
I always wanted to write a children’s classic.