On Thursday 18th August I was invited to Hodder and Stoughton’s London offices for a party and winner announcement after being shortlisted for the Just Write/Writing Magazine prize, outlined here in a previous blog post.
The whole thing felt a bit unreal – Hodder’s offices are huge and glassy and there are books everywhere, people being industrious and a lovely library sense of calm and wordiness floating about. We were intoduced to Jonathan from Just Write and Aimee, who’d organised all of this, also Jonathan Telfer and the lovely people from Writing Magazine.
The six of us who were shortlisted (me, Dan Purdue, Sally Jenkins, Louise R Hare, Sumana Khan and Ian Laskey) all got on well and we chatted for a while, before having some pictures taken for the magazine, giving a short video interview and drinking coffee.
We were then shown upstairs where a huge room had been decked out for our party, a bar was set up and gift bags sat in a pile with a big sign announcing us as shortlisted writers. It felt even more unreal, and then completely unreal as we were shown onto a rooftop garden overlooking the Thames with fine views in every direction.
I’m not often lost for words but for a few minutes I struggled and was only able to say ‘wow’ a lot.
I decided to talk to as many people as I could, so I met publishers, authors (members of the Prime Writers group on Twitter, all of whom were lovely and encouraging, especially Melissa Bailey and Jason Hewitt.) Alas, time ran away all too quickly and there were still people I’d not met when we were called back in for some speeches and the winner announcement.
It was me! I managed to stutter out a speech and thank people and then was interviewed again, (I’m not sure when these interviews will be aired, and, knowing how I look on camera I’m not in a rush to see them) and I was given a special hardback copy of all our stories and a Waterstones book token. Aimee whisked a cover off a table and there were lots of copies of our book for everyone to take away. After this there was lots of congratulating and book signing (other authors, REAL ones, asking me to sign a copy of the books they’d been given!) and I wandered about in a champagney haze of happiness, loving every minute.
There’s a write up in Writing Magazine this month too.
The whole thing has been a wonderful experience, and I hope it’s not too long before I’m in that wonderful bookish environment again. I felt like small village girl hitting the big bright lights of the city – I certainly hope I didn’t come across like that but I’m sure I did. Next time I’ll be cool, calm and professional. Possibly.