It’s now autumn and my summer was spent with family, writing and some book events in schools and libraries (from Truro to South London). In spring (as you can read further down), I was looking forward to visiting Shropshire for their Teenage Book Award. The long journey north was made wonderfully worthwhile by meeting dedicated librarians as well as students and ’sister’ authors Liz Laird and Sita Bramachari. Here we are in Concord College’s Library which has many inspiring quotations on its walls. We chose to sit under this one from the founder of Amnesty International… close to all our hearts.
My thanks too to Concord for preparing this international spread of some of my book covers!
I’ve been delighted to have The Other Side of Truth shortlisted for the Shropshire Teenage Book Award 2019 (it’s still a teenager 19 years after it won the Carnegie Medal for 2000!). It’s among great company as you can see below, in its first edition with a red cover. This excellent project, initiated by Shropshire librarians, aims to encourage reading for pleasure in Years 7 to 9. The fiction books all share themes of empathy and dealing with adversity while the non-fiction books are based on mental wellbeing. My writer friends Elizabeth Laird and Sita Bramachari will be making cross-country journeys in May, as I will, to Concord College to meet some of the young people from various school who have been reading the books!
I’m also looking forward to the first Greenway Literary Festival being held at Agatha Christie’s holiday home ’Greenway House’ in Devon. Literature Works SW has organised this in partnership with the National Trust. On 25 May, I’ll be talking about ’Young People on Journeys for Justice’, including some who have provided inspiration for stories and been part of my writing journey. I shall take my precious peace badges. These were gifts from some inspirational children with whom theatre director Olusola Oyeleye and I ran workshops at Orange Grove Primary School in Jo’burg in August 1993. This was before South Africa’s first democratic elections and the children invited us to join them at a Peace Rally. It was a violent time and the future was highly uncertain… but these young people were keeping Hope alive. My novel No Turning Back came out of that visit.
A P.S. to my Greenway event… As most of the children were younger than 10, I began with Cinderella of the Nile where my protagonist’s kindness and resilience see her through. Similar qualities, I believe, shine through Naledi and Tiro on their Journey to Jo’burg, some 2000 years later. A kind teacher from North Somerset wrote about my event here.
Cinderella of the Nile will arrive in the USA this year. Marjan Vafaeian’s illustrations have led to it being nominated for the 2019 Kate Greenaway Award here in the UK. Special events in 2018 included its launch at the Hay Festival, followed by the Edinburgh Book Festival where Marjan and I met for the first time. Marjan travelled from Tehran and receiving her visa was a roller coaster affair but I’m crossing fingers we’ll meet again soon.
The cross-age audiences at my ’Cinderella’ events in libraries remind me of the power of fairy tales, however old we are, and I look forward to more of these in 2019.
I am delighted to one of the Nominated Candidates for the Astrid Lindren Memorial Award.