Do you remember anything about 2013? Anything? Anything at all?
The damp and misty morning in our tent on a Durness campsite when I borrowed my husband’s phone to check emails for the first time that week.
Reading that I had been shortlisted for that year’s Kelpies Prize.
Walking the dog along the clifftop trail with the fog so low over the sea that I couldn’t see the water. Hiding the Atlantic as well as my surely bright future as a published author. It’s the closest I’ve come to floating with joy.
Skip ahead a few short weeks to the end of August and the cold-ish height of a Scottish summer in Charlotte Square at the Edinburgh Book Festival. The photo at the top of my blog posts was taken on that day, and you can probably see the anticipation on my face. Two minutes later, I met Alex McCall, my nineteen-year-old fellow shortlistee, along with the lovely Shona McQuilken.
The people gathered. Extracts were read. I shook hands and nodded and smiled. I recognised faces I’d seen on the back covers of books. To be honest, a lot of it was a blur, until they announced Alex McCall as the winner.
The reason all this has been on my mind again? This week, Alex was announced as the Winner of the Scottish Children’s Book of the Year Award, voted for exclusively by child readers. He has done so well and I’m really, really pleased for him.
Alex McCall, 21 years-old and still at university, has won the Younger Readers category of the Scottish children’s book awards with his first novel Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens.
But it gets better: Not only is he an excellent writer. He keeps his promises. On the Kelpies Prize night, visibly shaken by his own success, he promised my 7-year old son a signed copy of the book once it was published. We heard no more. Months later, the following spring, a package arrived with a lovely dedication. He must have got our address from the publishers. What a lovely role model he is for young people and I look forward to reading what he comes up with next!