A while ago I wrote a post on the heart-breaking experience I’d had trying to get my first book published. I’d become involved with a partner publishing programme that didn’t work out (click here for details) and lost a lot of money and hope. Eventually I reached the point where I couldn’t face doing anything further with my manuscript. It felt too hard and I couldn’t bear another disappointment.
That was when it was suggested to me that I enter my book for the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon award. Administered by the Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust, the award is made annually to an unpublished, New Zealand author of a work of fiction for children between 7 and 13 years of age. The award carries a monetary prize and an offer of publication by Scholastic New Zealand. Entries have to be in by October, and are announced in March the following year.
Since the award seemed a good place to park my manuscript while I collected my thoughts, I decided to enter. As time ticked by I tried not to think about it or to have any expectations.
Imagine my surprise when I received a call informing me that I was the 2014 Tom Fitzgibbon award winner!
The chairperson of the Storyline’s Children’s Literature Charitable Trust, Dr. Libby Limbrick, must have been very bemused during that call. I think I may have asked her 20 times or more if she was serious! I have to say, she was very patient with me.
Last weekend I flew up to Auckland to receive the award which was presented at the Margaret Mahy day on Saturday 29th of March alongside the other awards that Storylines administer. What a thrill to witness the launch of the previous winner’s book, to receive my award, to see my friend and fellow author Mark Brady short-listed three times across two different awards, and to meet so many of the wonderful community of children’s authors and illustrators we have in this country. I am indebted to so many people for their help and support, and to Storylines and Scholastic for making this incredible opportunity possible.
I’m left thinking that my book has two stories; the one written on paper for children to read, and the story behind that story – how it came to be written and everything that happened before, during and after the writing. While the story in my book and the story of my book may be different, there are similarities. Not least of which is a happy ending.