Just to update you on the Wilbur Smith prize. I was one of five writers shortlisted for the Unpublished Adventure Novel of the Year, from an entry of more than 250 from 60 different countries. I attended an amazing awards ceremony at the Stationers Hall in London where Bill Swiggs from Australia was named the winner with his novel Blood on the Wattle. I was only slightly disappointed not to win as I was astounded to have been chosen in the first place: I entered the competition for an Adventure novel never having considered that genre for my particular story. I was the only woman on the shortlist, and my protagonist was also a woman – perhaps I shall start a trend for more female adventurers!
However, through the competition, I now have a literary agent, Charlotte Colwill of BravoBlue whom I met at the awards ceremony. She’s young, very enthusiastic, and I’m sure she’ll do the very best she can for Pathway of the Gods. I also met Wilbur Smith’s agent, Kevin Conroy Scott, who will be working with Charlotte. So I feel I am in very good hands.
Several people asked me before the awards evening if I had prepared a winner’s speech. Of course I had thought about it. And because I didn’t get to give it then, I’d like to share with you something of what I was going to say – and that’s all to do with writing buddies. We all need them.
Getting down to writing can be a lonely business. We don’t want constant interruptions: emails, telephone calls, offers of cups of tea. So a huge part of being a writer is, by the very nature of the work, being on your own. I’m actually writing this blog in a fantastic cottage up in Northumberland where I’ve come for a week’s peace, quiet, castle-visiting and writing – all on my own! (The photo above is of Warkworth castle)
But interaction with people who know and can empathise with what you’re going through is absolutely vital. They are the ones who keep you going when you get Writer’s Block; they are the ones who sympathise when you get a rejection, and another, and …… They are the ones who suggest competitions to enter, agents to approach, events to go to. They are the ones who believe in your writing but also give good, honest feedback and advice.
In my case, four of us on Brunel University’s Novel Writing MA decided we would form a support group when our course finished, sending round two chapters of our book to each other every month and then meeting, over lunch, to discuss them. I really don’t think I would have finished my novel, let alone reached this stage, if it hadn’t been for them. So, a huge thank you to Claudia, Cathy and Stephanie. And to all my other writing friends who have offered their support over the years.
There, non-acceptance speech over!
At the awards evening, those who had been shortlisted were invited to read a short extract from their novels. If you’d like to read mine, please click here.
And here’s what Bill’s book Blood on the Wattle is about:
It is the year 1853 in colonial Australia and 19-year-old Toby O’Rourke’s world changed forever when his parents are brutally murdered and he and his brother Patrick are cast out of the only home they have ever known. On the goldfields of Ballarat, Toby finds a little peace for his tormented soul in the form of Annie Hocking, a woman to stand by his side through the lawlessness of the diggings and the killing ground of the Eureka Stockade. Toby is given a chance to return to the life he once knew, but to do so, he must hunt down and kill the man who murdered his parents.
Bill already has a publisher for his novel and I’m looking forward to reading it, wishing him the very best of luck.
Also this month: the extract from Pathway of the Gods; writing prompts; a book recommendation and competitions to enter.