Sunday, June 21, 2015

HAUNT: Dead Scared wins Sefton Super Reads.

It's been a while since I won anything.

Let's be honest, it was 1983. I've been involved in the winning of things in the meantime - especially with my animated shows - but those are team efforts, where I'm a cog in a very talented (and large) machine. But solo? No. I strike lucky on the occasional scratch card, but that tends to be my lot.

When I heard that HAUNT: Dead Scared had been shortlisted for the Sefton Super Reads, I was chuffed to bits. I was also very happy to go along on the day and participate in a fun event, but I never for the life of me imagined I might win. The four other authors who were present were all splendid folk and heavyweights of children's literature, I should add - Kevin Brooks, Sally Gardner, Rebecca Stevens and Paul Dowswell. We shared the stage and answered some fascinating questions from the children who had come to the ceremony. So of course, I imagined I was simply there to make up the numbers, bearing in mind my awards drought. Hey, there were chocolate HobNobs - I was never going to say no.

To say I was thrilled when HAUNT was announced as the winner, doesn't come close. Kevin rightly pointed out that the look on my face wasn't one that could've been faked (I've always been crap at poker), and any hopes of cool were lost in my gibbering acceptance speech.

Perhaps I never feel I'm going to win anything might be the fact that I'm a genre writer - I rarely deviate from fantasy and horror. These genres (along with science fiction) aren't to everyone's tastes, and I can accept that. They might even be looked down upon by other, more literary writers. Too commercial, too trivial, too silly. But it's where I'm most at home. And I'd argue all the live long day that important issues can be broached through each of those genres for audiences of all ages.

Ma-HOO-sive thanks to the lovely Lesley Davies of Sefton Libraries and one-man-literacy-crusader Tony Higginson of Write Blend (formerly Formby Books) for running the Super Reads programme. And to the children who read all the shortlisted books, and continue to read across the Sefton borough, thanks for giving my wee book the thumbs up. Get your teachers to give me a shout and I'll come visit, just in case you haven't had enough of my muttonchops yet.

PS: It was the Warrington Park Art competition I won in 1983, by the way. I came first in my age group, aged 11. You had to design a 'Park Of The Future', so naturally I ripped off Silent Running and stuck mine in a globe in deep space.