I had such a lovely time at the Leeds Book Awards on Tuesday, 19th May. You might say that’s no surprise, as Smart won the 11-14 category but the whole event was so well organised and ran so smoothly, I know all the authors who attended felt the same way.
I travelled up to Pudsey Civic Hall from Nottingham and arrived just after noon to be greeted by Tim, my personal chaperone for the afternoon! After a light buffet lunch and coffee in the authors’ room, we went downstairs to a packed hall with over 300 students.
Andy, the MC, provided great poetry and word fun and all the authors took part in a Q & A session with the audience.
THEN. . .it was time for the secrets of the golden envelopes to be revealed!
The 11-14 category golden envelope was opened and read in style by pupil, Alex. What an amazing moment when I heard the words, ‘the winner is SMART by Kim Slater’ – even more special because SMART was voted the winner by the young people in the audience.
After the 14-16 winner, Bali Rai, was announced, all the authors moved to the back of the hall for the signings! Again, really well organised, with students bringing notebooks, copies of Smart and even school library copies, to be signed.
I was so touched and surprised to receive wonderful letters and pieces of artwork, all related to Smart. I’ve included some of them here.
I will be writing to the students who went to such trouble!
Miriam, aged 11 (nearly 12!), of Allerton High School really excelled herself with the superb art in her SMART booklet…Kieran would be SO impressed!
Miriam even designed a new SMART cover below, which I love!
I got spoiled with this super bookmark, made just for me!
…and the cutest mini-notebook ever – a real notebook that I can actually write notes in for my next book!
Thank you Miriam, you are an absolute STAR!!
Another gorgeous SMART booklet was made for me by Chiara of Allerton High School.
Thank you Chiara!
Lovely, lovely letters from Daisy and Erin aged 13.
And now two little mysteries that Kieran would definitely want solving:
Lovely Abbie drew me this fabulous picture. I’m hoping it is a pic of me because I LOVE my dress, hair and high heels!
I’d like to know Abbie’s surname and which school she attends. Abbie, or anyone that knows Abbie….please let me know via this website or on Twitter!
I loved this splendid piece of work: KIERAN’S NOTEBOOK! But again, a bit of a mystery is attached . . .
Kieran would especially approve of the To Do list at the back of the notebook!
BUT the wonderful artist who made this, forgot to put his/her name on the notebook…please help me identify the mystery student!
Thank you so much to the students above and to all the young people who came to speak to me on Tuesday. I am so pleased you all loved SMART and I would like to thank each and every person who voted for the book to win the prestigious Leeds Book Award 2015.
Today, I attended the De Montford University in Leicester to hear the live announcement of the East Midlands Book Award (EMBA) 2015 shortlist.
I am delighted and proud that Smart is one of the six shortlisted books in this prestigious local regional award and I was able to do a quick reading from the novel for the audience.
It was so great to see my former Nottingham Trent University (NTU) tutor and acclaimed poet, Mahendra Solanki, now Warwick’s Royal Literary Fund Fellow. It doesn’t seem any time at all since I sat in Mahendra’s office, early in 2007, being interviewed as a mature student interested in pursuing an MA in Creative Writing. Mahendra persuaded me to enrol on the English & Creative Writing degree first and I’m very grateful for that, as the three years I studied on the full-time degree proved to be invaluable in my journey as a published writer.
I met lots of lovely new people and I was especially chuffed when my BA and MA dissertation tutor, David Belbin, congratulated me on Twitter. David was always a positive and inspiring influence during my time at NTU and I greatly admire his writing.
After the EMBA annoucement, Mac and I headed home to Nottingham and OF COURSE we had to pop into Waterstones. As any author knows, you never get tired of seeing your book on display. And what a treat was in store for us today! Waterstones NG, who hosted my book launch for Smart in June 14 and who have been incredibly supportive of me as a local author, have created an amazing and striking display of Smart downstairs in the store.
The EMBA shortlist is the SEVENTH award nomination for Smart and I couldn’t be happier.
Call it a cliche, call what you will….but put the work in and believe in yourself, don’t give up and dreams really can come true!
The updated award list for Smart is:
NATIONAL AWARDS 2015
Shortlisted for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize
Longlisted for Carnegie Prize
REGIONAL AWARDS 2015
East Midlands Book Award
The BASH Award (Book Award St Helen’s)
The Leeds Book Award
The very first Shropshire Teen Book Award
The Worcestershire Teen Book Award
I got a call on Thursday 19th February from Kevin Hill, one of the producers of the BBC East Midlands Today programme. I was delighted that he was very interested in my writing journey story and my award nominations.
After a couple of short conversations, it was agreed that Kevin would send a reporter and photographer out to our apartment on Friday morning at 10.00 am. Pre-filming would take place there and then I would go into the BBC studios on London Road, Nottingham, for a live interview on the couch with Anne and Dom, on Friday’s programme.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well Thursday evening. I was excited and terrified that this was to be my first time being interviewed about my book on TV!
At 10.00 am sharp, the lovely Carolyn Moses and John the photographer arrived. They immediately put me at ease and for the next two hours, Carolyn and I chatted all about my writing journey and laughed lots, too!
John took lots of shots and filmed me reading an extract from ‘Smart’ out on our balcony, which overlooks the River Trent. The river plays a large part in the setting and also the plot of the book. He also filmed Carolyn and I strolling alongside the river, talking about why my main character, Kieran, spends so much time down at the embankment.
Carolyn and John were with me for just over two hours and I was shocked when Carolyn explained that it usually takes over one hour of filming to produce just over a minute of edited viewing material for the actual programme.
At 5.45pm, Mac and I got a cab into town to arrive at the studios for 6pm. I had emailed Kevin the producer some high-resolution images of the cover of ‘Smart’ and was delighted to see the results on the big screens in the studio when we arrived . . .
Carolyn came down to see us and explained that there would be about a minute and a half of pre-filmed viewing from that morning’s apartment visit and then my live interview would last around two minutes. It was important to stick to answering Anne and Dom’s questions and try not to ramble on too much…no easy task, as I can talk for England and had so much to say!
But the interview went really well. Anne and Dom were so lovely and friendly and before I knew it, my two minutes was up and it was time for the weather!
When I came out of the studios I had so many lovely texts and messages from friends and family, my SMART TV day really was a wonderful experience from start to finish.
The day was rounded off perfectly when we picked up a fish and chip supper and relaxed with a bottle of fizz, watching the recorded programme back at home.
It’s really important for authors – especially new authors – to be willing and able to embrace the different mediums of publicity and media opportunities that can come very suddenly on the back of things like award nominations.
During this last week, I have had to cancel appointments, drop plans at a moment’s notice and overcome nerves and insecurities. I can safely state it has all been worth it and I’m so grateful for the local press and TV support I have been given.
Being an author is certainly about the daily grind of producing new words, the almost constant editing and riding the ‘I am worthy’ new author rollercoaster. But it is also about getting your work out there and putting a face and personality to your novels, talking about your book – and hopefully adding enough interest to attract potential new readers!