Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Costa Shortlist

Well, this is very exciting! A Song for Issy Bradley has been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. I'm so delighted, and surprised - I can't believe my book gets to cosy up to books by the incredible writers above, particularly Ali Smith whose writing makes my heart sing. Hooray! 

It's so exciting to see the cover with the addition of a Costa Book Awards sticker. 

At the moment the hardback is only £4.99 on Amazon. And there are other great deals, too. Like the offer in The Book People catalogue that includes all four of the Costa shortlisted first novels for £15.99. 

It's such a good offer that I decided to avail myself of it (I'm not sure whether that makes me a masochist, but I've heard such good things about the other novels that it seems silly not to enjoy them). I was about to go ahead when Neil walked in the room and rather cagily advised me not to (it's my birthday soon and I reckon I know what he's bought me!). 

I've been getting The Book People catalogue since my children were small which means it was especially lovely to see A Song for Issy Bradley on the front cover.

I also recently heard that Radio Four Extra will be broadcasting five of my short stories over the course of a week during January 2015. The stories were recorded a couple of weeks ago - I can't wait to hear them. I'm especially interested to hear what they've done with a story called 'Everything a Parent Needs to Know' which I've never read aloud because it is interspersed with advice from (fake) parenting books.

Best of all is the news that son 2's thoracic surgery in October was a success and he is now back at school. I'll be donating my fee from Radio 4 Extra to the Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey where I was able to stay for several nights while he recovered. 

*shuffles back to the desk to grapple with the "difficult" second novel*  

Friday, 7 November 2014

Busy Times (otherwise known as swanning around & not doing much writing)

Such a busy few weeks. I had a lovely time at Dundee Literary Festival where I finally met fellow Scott Prize winner Kirsty Logan in the flesh. We discussed short stories, debut novels and fairy tales and during the course of our event we discovered that we both found our agents as a result of writing competitions. 

Kirsty's debut novel sounds wonderful. Here's the cover.

Isn't it beautiful?

The other fantastic thing about going to Dundee was the scenery. Here's a few pictures of the view from the train window.

I also had a great time at the Off the Shelf Festival of Words. My event with Berlie Doherty was held at the Quaker Meetinghouse. It was really refreshing to see a sign like the one below in a place of worship.

I very much enjoyed Berlie's novel, Requiem. Berlie describes it as 'a novel about the influence of religion, family and music on a child's life.' You can watch a video of the evening on YouTube.

I always think of things I should have said once events are finished. I have a tendency to agree with people far too easily, probably because I have a fear of "contention" - I grew up believing that contention (which seemed to mean 'mildly disagreeing with anyone') is 'of the devil' (3 Nephi 11:29). On this occasion, I probably should have pushed back a bit when it came to the discussion of my novel as a loss of faith story. While A Song for Issy Bradley is definitely about loss, it's not really about loss of faith; it could be said that the Bradleys renegotiate their faith, but they don't lose it, and I think, by the end of the novel, they develop some much-needed faith in each other, too.

We had an early Halloween and then, at the end of last week, one of my sons had an operation and as a result I spent four nights in the Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey Hospital. My son's operation was pretty big - it took almost 6 hours (we were counting the minutes). He had fantastic care during his hospital stay. I thought I'd get some writing done while I was there, but I spent most of the time worrying and eating chocolate. My son is now recovering at home and, for the first time in years, I've been up in the night caring for a child. I feel somewhat in awe of my younger self who functioned while enduring disturbed sleep for months at a time - well done younger self! While I was staying at Alder Hey I had some great news about a radio opportunity (details to follow in a separate blog). I'll be donating my fee from the project to the Ronald McDonald House.

And finally, here's a little bit of loveliness, A Song for Issy Bradley makes an appearance on this list - 'The Best Debut Novels of 2014' at The Huffington Post.

Dundee portraits were taken by Bob McDevitt.