The awards dinner was in the incredible Mitchell Reading Room , that had been turned into a banqueting hall for the evening. I got frocked up (a very rare occurrence) and, as I never attended any of my graduations – banned from the high school event and not fussed by the uni ones – it felt very much like a graduation ceremony for writing.
I was very happy to be sitting between my lovely friend Favel Parrett (hint on pronunciation: Fave as in favourite) and my wonderful uncle, Jonathan Shaw, who has long been a staunch supporter of my writing and me in general.
Favel, whose book Past the Shallows is a must read, had come along with two editors from her publisher, Hachette, who were as normal and down to earth as budding writers never expect them to be. Across from us was Peggy Frew, another shortlistee whose book House of Sticks is next on my list.
Our places had gilt name tags and official booklets with the judges’ comments on all the shortlisted titles. The feedback on Thrill Seekers was so beautiful it made me cry. I particularly liked “so real is hurts” and “whip-like prose”. You can read the whole review here
Our category was one of the last to be announced, and our nerves grew and grew to the point where, after watching the winners have to get up from their tables and make the thousand-mile trip up to the stage accompanied by the worst musak you can imagine, the urge to run from the room became very real. I did enjoy seeing the winners’ looks of surprise and joy, their happiness was contagious. Rohan, the winner of our category was in Japan and hadn’t even prepared a speech for his agent to read because he’d thought it so unlikely he’d win!
And even though I didn’t take the prize, I still feel like a winner. A “graduated” writer, and on my way at last.
Read more about the awards and who won what on Uncle Jonny’s blog