Friday, 25 January 2013

15 Days at the North East Teenage Book Awards

I was in Newcastle at the end of last week for the North East Teenage Book Awards. 15 Days Without a Head was on the shortlist alongside some fantastic books: Sufiya Ahmed's Secrets of the Henna Girl, Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley, Louisa Reid's Black Heart Blue, Slated by Teri Terry and one of my favourite books of last year, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It was an honour to find myself in such esteemed company.

Students, librarians, teachers and parents from local schools braved a mini blizzard to attend the event. It was great having the opportunity to meet and talk with so many enthusiastic readers, all of whom had read, discussed and voted on the shortlisted titles. Each author was introduced by a student from a participating school – so I'd like to once again thank Hannah for the fantastic introduction she gave when it was my turn.

Huge congratulations to Teri Terry who was announced as the winner. Judging by the queues at Teri's signing table Slated was a very popular choice, so if you haven't read it – check it out! The second book in the series – Fractured – comes out in March.

Earlier in the day, I was invited over to Charles Thorp in Ryton to meet the school book group. Not only did they choose 15 Days Without a Head as their group favourite, they also gave me home-made chocolate cake! We had a great morning discussing books, music, cats and coming up with ideas for a story about a band of vampire musicians!

Next it was a short trip through the snow to Walbottle where I spent the rest of the day with year nine. After giving them a guided tour of my somewhat unorthodox route to becoming an author, we spent the afternoon doing some writing and (I'll admit) having the occasional chat about football!

Thanks to Beth, Gill and all the students at Charles Thorp, Leah and the staff and students at Walbottle for their welcome and hospitality. A big thumbs up also to Karmjeet from OUP who drove me round in the snow all day and to everyone at Seven Stories, especially Lorna who handled book sales, photography and cake wrangling duties. Finally, special thanks to Eileen Armstrong, Alec Williams and all the staff and students involved in the North East Teenage Book Award.

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