An enormous thank you to the Bristol librarians and schools who put on such a wonderful event for the final of the Bristol Teen Book Award on Thursday 13 February (which, coincidentally, is the date of the critical election in Night of the Party!) It was great to meet so many enthusiastic and insightful readers (there were some brilliant suggestions in the workshop about how Ash and Zara’s story might have turned out differently, and some really really challenging questions about writing in the panel session).
It was a great shortlist. I had enjoyed and admired the other books a lot. So I DEFINITELY wasn’t expecting to win… But it was a delight to know that Ash and Zara’s story had resonated with, enthused, and engaged so many young readers.
So… utterly unexpectedly and utterly wonderfully, this happened:
Night of the Party has been shortlisted for the SCBWI-BI Crystal Kite Award. It’s hard to express quite how wonderful this feels. For one thing, it came as a complete shock: there were so many great books on the long list, that I absolutely hadn’t expected to make it through to this stage; not even in one of those wistful if only dreams that can’t quite be dispelled from the back of the mind.
It means so much too, that it’s a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) award. I started my writing life as a solitary creature, discovering SCBWI only after five years and three books, at a time when I was feeling very lost and disenchanted. SCBWI played a huge part in getting me out of that dip, connecting me with a wonderful crit group (Dale Mathers, Carolyn Boyes, Julian Gibbs and Sarah Dalkin) and, through the 2016 Agents’ Party, with my wonderful agent Molly Ker Hawn. And as well as all that, this group has been a source of so much advice, information, debate, challenge, enjoyment, celebration – and above all, friendship: I have truly made some of the best friends of my life here.
From C16th England, to First World War France, to a dystopian near-future UK, the INTERESTING TIMES tour spans countries and centuries. Black Snow Falling by Liz MacWhirter, The Goose Road by Rowena House and my own Night of the Party are diverse and different novels. At first glance about the only thing they have in common is that they’re all UK debuts published this year!
But when we came together with the idea of doing a bookshop tour, and started to discuss our books in more depth we found a common thread running through all of them.
These are all stories where big histories have an impact on individual lives: where cultural, social and political forces create constraints and challenges for the people caught up in them. In these three different worlds, our teen protagonists have to struggle to survive, to carve out a space for action, to pursue their various visions of a good future – dilemmas which, surely, resonate for us all in our own interesting times of 2018.
We were delighted to start the tour this weekend, with events at Waterstones, Argyle Street, Glasgow, and Blackwell’s, Edinburgh. Our huge thanks go to the shops for hosting us, and to Elizabeth Frattaroli and Sarah Broadley of SCBWI for chairing our discussions and for their penetrating and challenging questions!
We’re looking forward to being on the road again in 2019!
I’m so pleased to have been invited to discuss Night of the Party at the SCBWI London Book Group. SCBWI’s been such a great source of support and comradeship while I’ve been writing, so this invitation really means a lot to me.
My brilliant editor at Scholastic, Linas Alsenas, will be there too, and we’ll be talking about Plot, Pace and Tension: how to keep your readers chewing those nails and turning those pages…
If you’re a children’s books fan, you’ll want to check out the rest of their site too: it’s fairly new, but already has a good range of interesting and thoughtfully written reviews of books for children of all ages.
London in Night of the Party is a bit of a mash up of what’s real and what’s imagined; so when Zara stares downriver from the footbridge over the Thames she’s seeing more half finished sky-scrapers than actually exist here and now. But Hampstead Heath in the book and in life are pretty much exactly the same. Here are some pictures of where Ash and Zara run together: the woods, the cafe, the bandstand and the mound of dark trees where he first tells her about Sophie.