Monday, 31 May 2010

We Have a Winner

By now I suppose everyone knows that I won the Eilis Dillon Award for Best First Book at the CBI/Bisto Childrens Book Awards last week. I should have blogged about it earlier but the week passed in a blur and I'm only getting back to reality now.

It's probably the oldest of cliches but I was thrilled just to have been shortlisted for the award and never expected to go any further so it was with a sense of stunned disbelief that I made my way to the stage to accept the award from Senator David Norris (erudite, entertaining, and someone I greatly admire). Apart from the award itself - a beautiful glass sculpture that I'll unfortunately have to hand back at the end of the year - I was presented with a stunning inscribed glass plate (to keep forever and ever and ever and...)

The day itself was hugely enjoyable. Myself and my wife met my publisher Scott (meandmybigmouth) Pack at our hotel and made our way into the Hugh Lane Gallery where the ceremony was taking place. There we were joined by my parents and I spent the time befoe the ceremony talking to the invited childrens school and library groups as well as meeting some of the other nominated writers.

The TV report on the day should be available here (at least for a while longer anyway). The two shifty looking characters at the beginning of the report are not, in fact, in a police line-up but Scott and me posing for photos (and yes, fashion fans, he did wear a shirt for the day).

The real trick was getting the trophy safely back to the hotel afterwards without dropping it. I certainly didn't want to be famous as the man who broke the Eilis Dillon Trophy - especially not in it's 20th year.

Now, I'm afraid it's back to reality as I struggle wth the fortunes of Harry in his third adventure.

The full list of winners is (and rather than write them all out I ingeniously cut and paste from David Maybury's excellent blog, which you should all visit regularly):

Bisto Honour Award for Writing goes to Siobhan Dowd for Solace of the Road

Teenager Holly Hogan is a troubled young person. Adopting a blonde wig and the assumed identity of fearless and reckless Solace, she journeys across England towards what she hopes will be a better future in Ireland. A finely constructed novel, beautifully written by a master storyteller.

Eilis Dillon Award for a First Children’s Book goes to Bob Burke for The Third Pig Detective Agency

This is the story of Harry Pigg, one of the three famous little pigs who built houses during our childhood. Now grown up, he ekes out a precarious existence as a private detective. This excellent pastiche of detective fiction is a vibrant, lively and funny book.

The Children’s Choice Award goes to Jane Mitchell for Chalkline

Chalkline tells the tale of the capture of Rafiq by soldiers of the Kashmir Freedom Fighters when they raid his village in search of new recruits. They roughly draw a line in chalk on Rafiq’s class-room wall and declare that any boy whose height reaches the line will be taken to fight. Chakline is a chilling account of the conditioning of a young boy to accept violence as normal, to stone or be stoned and ultimately to kill or be killed. A well-told, well-researched and cleverly plotted tale that is an intense read.

and finally…

the overall Bisto Book of the Year Award AND Bisto Honour Award for Illustration goes to Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for There

This alluring picturebook is one that will draw every reader, child and adult, into its charming spell. The little girl’s persistent self-questioning is a true and honest echo of the voice of a child as she comes to terms with what she knows and what she doesn’t. The harmonic interdependence of images and text is achieved with artistic brilliance and a disciplined pared-back writing style.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Free Books Compo - Form Orderly Queue Please

I know I've ranted on sometime in the dim distant past about why I don't read much fantasy any more. Suffice to say, most of it is derivative, predictable and very, very cliched. By the same token, I do enjoy it when I discover a good fantasy writer. Over the past few years I've loved the work of both George RR Martin and, especially, the magnificent Steven Erikson.

Recently, I've also been reading reading the work of Celine Kiernan. Although her Moorehawke Chronicles are aimed towards a younger audience, Celine's world is meticulously thought out, her main characters both flawed and believable and, very important this, she tells a good story. If that wasn't enough she can draw too (mumble, mutter, it's not fair, grumble).

All of this is by way of introduction to a competition Celine is currenly running on her web site, where you can win a full set of the Moorehawke books. This is especially enticing when you consider that the third book in the series, The Rebel Prince, isn't published for another five months.

So what are you waiting for, get on over there and have a go - but don't forget to come back here afterwards. It gets very lonely without you.

And yes, I'll be blogging about the Bisto awards shortly too.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

More details soon on what turned out to be a great day, I just need to recharge the batteries

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Camera Adds 300lbs You Know

On Monday I had my 8 minutes of fame when I appeared on RTE's The Afternoon Show to discuss the Bisto Awards. Also on the show was Catriona Hastings, author of the fabulous looking An Greasaí Bróg agus na Síoga (an Irish retelling of the elves and the Shoemaker).

After waiting around in the green room (which isn't green but had loads of coffee) we were taken to the studio where we were interviewed by Maura Derrane who quizzed me about the Third Pig's cover and what life was like as a writer having previously worked in IT. To accompany the segment, they also talked to three children from a school near Dungravan who were reading the nominated books. I had the pleasure of meeting them prior to going live and, as they hadn't been able to by my book locally, I was able to give them each a signed copy - which they seemed to appreciate.

The show itself seemed to go ok - I didn't sweat, fart or swear on live TV and answered the questions without too much humming and hawing. My brief flirtation with fame can be seen here. Our segment is about 45-50 mins in but I'm not sure anyone from outside Ireland will be able to access it. Btw I'm the one in the middle.