Winning… by Louise Candlish
Before 13th May 2019, the best prize I’d won was a Yorkie* for coming first in a junior school handwriting competition and, after I’d offered a piece to everyone in my family, I had one chunk left. (*Young folk: the Yorkie was the chocolate bar of the 1980s, targeted at lorry drivers for its heft and powers of satisfaction.)
Fast forward forty years and I’m at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Mayfair with a thousand publishing kingpins (and queenpins) for the 2019 British Book Awards, organised by The Bookseller. I’ve been invited for Our House, the novel I’ve written on an instrument undreamt of by the ten-year-old me with her calligraphy pen and ink-stained fingers (in deepest darkest Northampton, we would have considered the notion of a word processor nothing less than witchcraft.)
Anyway, David Baddiel is on stage with Lauren Laverne to announce the Book of the Year for Crime & Thriller. David Walliams and Ruth Jones are in the audience, as are my fellow nominees, who include Ian Rankin (yes, Ian Rankin).
Then, in a surreal dazzle, Our House is onscreen as the winner and everyone is screaming (well, I am, and others at the Simon & Schuster table are, including our own @BookMinxSJV) and I am sprinting onstage like someone being chased and seizing the Nibbie as if I think they’ll change their minds, and the whole thing is completely mental (the writing in the book is a lot better than this, I promise).
Among my podium stammerings is the message that I hope the win will inspire other writers who, like me, have not been overnight sensations. How cool that the judges chose the twelfth novel from a mid-career author who has gradually improved through trial and error rather than the work of a smooth-skinned genius who somehow knew how to do it at the first attempt!
Readers of this piece, you will not only know Our House inside out by now but likely have made a direct contribution to its Nibbie glory. Right from the start, the @TeamBATC community has been spreading the word to all who’ll listen – you’ve been an invaluable extension of the Simon & Schuster gang and I couldn’t be more grateful for every individual voice. THANK YOU! I’m the one with the trophy on my mantelpiece, but this is a team win if ever there was one.
And it tastes much better than a chocolate bar for lorry drivers.