“A beautifully crafted, evocative tale of what lies beneath. An elegant, poetic style enhances the dramatic contrast between the civilised veneer and the darker passions below.”
As many of you may already know, at the end of May the finalists for The People’s Book Prize 2013-2014 were announced – and I was overjoyed to learn that LYNNWOOD was among them. The next week seemed to pass in a haze. Each day became a blur beneath the mixture of excitement and anxiety, a mad rush for last-minute support and preparations for the awards dinner in London. I honestly did not know what to expect.
“Eerie. Simply eerie… This book took me aback – well written, freshly conceived, and brilliant for its genre.”
The event itself did nothing to break the spell. I remember standing in the Stationers’ Hall in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral, surrounded by two dozen other finalists and their guests. There were the anticipated moments: conversations about books – those we had written and those that we enjoyed to read – the introductions, the growing tightness of the bow-tie at my neck. And there were unexpected turns, which led me from a video interview to a nearby pub with a G&T. I met with the Sparkling Books team in a hall that would have looked quite at home at King’s Landing and we sat down to dinner before the award winners were revealed. There was pork belly and wine enough to fill even me, then we were asked to stand with our respective books.
I’m not used to being the centre of attention, and I still find it difficult to get my head around the idea of rewarding something as inherently subjective as art. The real reward is in the completion of the work, the cathartic feeling of having created something honest and personal and expressive, of having lived and died over the course of the writing process. And yet, as I stood there with my book, I was reminded that I did so because my readers had voted for me.
“LYNNWOOD is a gem. Although it is described as a horror, I would say that it is not entirely typical of this genre. The woodcraft is exceptional. The story is strange, dark and unsettling, but very beautifully crafted.”
I didn’t win the prize, but that’s okay because what meant the most to me were the comments and responses left by these readers. People had read my book and lived LYNNWOOD and listened to what it was telling them, and it was this support that had made me a finalist. We spend out lives looking for meaning, connections, trying to make sense of the world and our places in it. I write for the same reason. Knowing that there are other people out there who for two-hundred pages glimpsed the world through my eyes and saw something they recognised means more to me than anything else. So to everyone who made the night possible, from my readers to Anna and the Sparkling Books team and the organisers of The People’s Book Prize, thank you for everything.