Author Archives: beccawearsredwellies

So long, fare thee well, pip pip, cheerio, I’ll be back soon (for tea and cake)

All great stories have a beginning. Where we meet our hero and discover the task or problem. The middle is where all the excitement lies, a great cacophony of action and triumph. And then, finally we reach a conclusion, an end, the finish.  Turning the final page, reaching the last line where paper meets board and the dance of black and white fades to silence. Which is a roundabout way of saying, that I am on the end papers of my time at Hot Key Books and Red Lemon. I’m terribly sad to be saying goodbye after a quite incredible 18 months, and really very reluctant to put this particular story down. But. Most great stories don’t end on the final page. They continue in the reader’s head or in conversation, in reading groups, the playground, the bus. Sometimes they have sequels.

Moshi Monsters Sheet

I am excited to be opening up my career: part 2 – where I can’t wait to start work on the Moshi Monsters Magazine. So from a place where stories lie at the heart of everything – to somewhere exactly the same (but a bit more furry).  At this point, if I were on the Xfactor I would get a hastily put together montage of pivotal moments. From when I first walked in the door to when I made Cheryl Cole cry with my first audition to when the public voted me out…  Unfortunately (or perhaps very fortunately) I don’t quite have the technical no-how for this, so I’ve recreated the idea with a very short compilation of my ‘best bits’. (or rather some songs that I love and will find any excuse to shout about….)

The best of all the bits!

The best of all the bits!

Working at a place like Hot Key Books has been a huge learning curve – when I look back at where I started, a youthful twenty three year old with big dreams and a memory like a sieve I can’t quite believe how much I’ve learnt. The intricacies of Biblio for a start. But  meta-data! P&Ls! Pub schedules! Invoicing! The best bit about being an assistant is that you get to really get under the skin of how a business ticks while occasionally getting to do some unbelievably exciting things….

The Story Adventure

Sometimes publishing can seem a bit removed from the real world. You hope and cross everything that the books you send out there will make an impact – but it’s a lot of guess work. And then something like The Story Adventure comes along and you get letters like these from kids who have discovered how wonderful writing can be – I’ll be looking out for their names in Waterstones in 10 years time!

The Young Writers Prize

From very young writers to ones who are a bit bigger – but just as undiscovered. Working on this project was such a joy – from having over 350 entrants, sifting through them all and coming out the other side with two fabulous authors – I can’t wait to see their books flying off shelves later this year. Katie Coyle and Joe Ducie are both names to watch.

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THE RIG 300dpi

The Blog

Being creative is at the heart of what I love about this job. Getting to think outside of the box and put  my (often strange) thoughts down on (virtual) paper. I’ve been really lucky to get some great responses to some of the blog posts I’ve written – and have actually taken one idea and set it free in the pastures of Word Press. So for anyone who enjoyed our Boy Meets Girl meets Books series of blogs, you can now follow our progress on a dedicated blog! Find us at http://boymeetsgirlmeetsbooks.wordpress.com/ where we have May’s choices and April’s reviews.

The People

HKB is the very special company that it is because of the people who make it. I couldn’t even start to say how much I have loved working here without sounding like I was making a long and weepy Oscar’s speech. So I’ll do a J-Law and keep it brief and very cool, by just saying that every single person here has a real passion for stories, an understanding of what makes books great, and a  touch of magic. That’s the only way to explain how such exciting things come out of such a small team…

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The very early days!

The Final Word

It’s really hard to be articulate when you want to say everything. Instead I’ll leave it to Tim Minchin and Matilda…

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Whigs, Wigs and Wigging out.

Perched on the edge of a large velvet sofa, trying desperately to hide my bitten nails and nervous shakes, my University interviewer, and Director of Studies to be, thought for a moment and then asked, “What is the point of a museum?”

What? My brain cried, what sort of question is that? I’ll explicate the causes of the 1917 Russian Revolution! Expound on the limitations of the Great Reform Act of 1867 or deliberate on the role of women in the decline of the Liberal Party. But museums? What have museums got to do with history?

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Where dates don’t matter!

After mumbling something about making history accessible to everyone I quickly moved on to firmer ground, weighted in dates, names and facts. Five years down the line and I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, let alone who the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in 1905 (oats and Asquith respectively…) but that question did stick. And, as with all the best historical theories, my thoughts have changed considerably over time.

I used to be someone who worked with history, and now I’m someone who loves stories –and I’ve realised that actually those two aren’t so far apart. Museums, stories, history – it’s all about getting under the skin of someone else. I spent most of my degree standing on the edge of yesterday and asking my brain to put together a kaleidoscope of stories to cobble together something approaching truth. And not much has changed. Michael Gove’s decision to move the curriculum away from the history as experienced by people, understood as a complex web of experience, lies, stories and great moments, towards something that can be drawn neatly along a ruler is at once astoundingly naïve and also, I believe, wrong.

History is as much about the stories as it is about the Bills, laws and coronations. When an archaeologist uncovers a piece of jewellery, a Roman wall or an ancient shoe, historians work in the realms of guesswork and creativity to connect the dots and make ‘history’ bigger. Museums are a great bridge from stories to fact, you have to use a touch of imagination to bring it altogether but underneath the guesswork and possibilities are the scavenged artefacts of truth.

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A servant boy with Bill Spykes the hedgehog

The best museums (in my opinion) are the ones that encourage you to use your imagination to really understand the past. Some people think that history is something abstract and intangible that can be recited from books and learnt from timelines (*coughs* Gove. Ahem.). BUT…not so. I fell in love with the idea of history as a thing in its own right aged 7, sitting in an Andersen shelter listening to the bombs falling over London, and comforted by the kind cockney women telling me to keep my “chin up”. Granted this was in the confines of the Imperial War Museum and I’d only recently emerged from the trenches – but, down there with the benches shaking and the smell of smoke creeping through the walls, that history was as real and as valid, as any textbook or timeline might claim.

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A (ghostly) foundling girl

There are many great museums that really let you get a first-hand taste of history. Recently we went on a Victorian themed tour of Bloomsbury, visiting The Dickens Museum and then The Foundling Museum.

Shortly after breakfast I was a maid making porridge on a huge iron stove. Quickly followed by a stint as a servant boy where I explored the wine cellars, jumped at a rat and realised I’d left the oats on to burn.

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A restorative latte later and I was Thomas Coram, establishing the Foundling Museum, taking in waifs and strays from across London and transforming the face of British society. And then briefly a girl left by desperate parents with only a small ‘token’ as a clue to my true family. Segueing from an anonymous servant girl to a man whose name lives on as one of the great philanthropists of our time, and back to a life of hard graft- I was able to pick up stories, get a taste of history and really learn something (*cough*).

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Thomas Coram – a very splendid coat

So the moral of this story? The imagined past is as good as any story. Museums can be the alchemists touch which turn numbers and names into history gold. Children are excellent at understanding the complexities of a history. Don’t take away the dressing up! Lastly – I look great in a wig.

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Anyone for tea?

Girl meets Boy meets Books: Part 2

The great book swap continues! You might remember that as a January resolution the ‘boy’ and I decided to challenge each other with a book to broaden the mind. One book each month, something that the other one would never dream of picking up but that would give them a new perspective on great literature. Last time we got as far as debating language vs plot and cleverness vs intellect… recent events have proved that great works split opinion, and there are some things we will never agree on!

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Getting stuck in…

 February (see here for our reasons behind the chosen titles)

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I gave him WONDER by R.J. Palacio

He said –
While the message of the book is commendable and important, I feel that the author’s voice drowns out the child characters’ voices because she feels she has an important lesson for readers – but tells it in a manner which is purposefully childish. It came across as trite, preachy and patronising as a result. I hate to be a reviewer who negatively reviews a book which is so obviously not aimed at him, but I do feel that there is children’s literature out there which conveys a similar message but with a story and characters complex enough to leave more of a lasting impression. And without the infuriatingly-schmaltzy Hollywood ending. While it is a decent story relatively well told, I got the impression it’s the kind of story adults think children should be reading to turn them into sensible and sensitive people, rather than what children really want to read.

He gave me FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

I said –
I absolutely loved this. It felt like reading THE HANDMAID’S TALE all over again, a stark warning about abandoning things which are crucial to humanity in favour of ‘progress’. The burning of books has been a symbol for centuries of the danger of knowledge, and the restriction of freedom. From the burning of Ashurbanipal in 612 BC, to the Nazi book burning campaign in 1933 where over 25,000 texts were destroyed, to set alight a book symbolises far more than flame on paper. Even today the burning of books is a regular occurrence. Whether that’s the Qu’ran in Florida or stacks of Harry Potter books, it is a statement of aggression, and violence that somehow transgresses a physical violation. Ray Bradbury’s story is one that will stay with me, his stark prose and vivid characters were excellent. And despite the dystopian world I thought he betrayed a sense of hope in Montag’s innate need for literature; for poetry, prose, history and society  devoured from paper. It made me wonder what this meant for eBooks – is there a danger that the transience of the digital word betrays the perpetuity of paper?

March

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I gave him KIT’S WILDERNESS by David Almond
The reaction I got to WONDER made me certain that my next move had to be a good one. I wanted to prove that children’s literature can be hugely powerful, and scary, moving, and dangerous. The sense of uneasiness that Almond regularly creates in his writing has stayed with me beyond plot points and character details and I knew that it was a good book for a boy who loves powerful prose and sparse writing.

He said –
Read any work by David Almond and you immediately get a sense of someone who understands the complexity of young readers’ minds, what inspires them, what excites them and the type of story they can get lost in. Kit’s Wilderness is a perfect example. It deals with themes like friendship, belonging, rejection, redemption, and all with a subtlety of touch which gets under the skin and remains with you long after reading. There is nothing patronising in his style – he treats readers with respect and urges them to make up their own minds about complex issues like the relationship between Kit and Askew, the meaning of the Death game, the presence of ghosts. While SKELLIG is David Almond’s most famous novel, I feel that KIT’S WILDERNESS is the superior novel in many respects, and showcases an author at the height of his powers, providing a thrilling, utterly absorbing ride for his audience.

He gave me Woody Allen’s Complete Prose
I chose Woody Allen’s Collected Prose because I consider it to be among the best comic prose ever written. It stands alongside Wodehouse, Thurber and Perelman in its consistency of laughs, but with a range of stories and surreal edge which is for me superior to any of those. It is the ultimate ‘dip-in-and-out’ book, with almost every line providing a twist, a turn of phrase, a witty reversal, a master class in joke writing and one liners. Even the most worn stories in my copy, like The Kugelmass Episode and Death Knocks, still surprise me and make me laugh out loud. It is, without doubt, my desert island book.

I said –
Errr… I know that Woody Allen is your hero. I get that he is a comedy genius, and I can see the brilliance at work. But I just didn’t get it. Maybe I should have picked out stories rather than starting at the beginning and working my way through. I was never compelled to pick it up and abandon eating and sleeping to get to the end. I enjoyed it in a distant and slightly removed way, I would like to read more but I think that it will be the kind of book that I can pick up and put down easily, maybe with a few days or weeks in between. But not every book has to be like a blindfold over my consciousness – I’m never going to ‘wake up’ from Woody Allen and realise that I’ve been dribbling into my muesli for 3 hours.

Next Month…..

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He’s giving me THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde
This was the first of Oscar Wilde’s works I ever came across and it hooked me from the first chapter on. His prose contains a musicality that transcends words on a page in a way I’ve never encountered anywhere else. Although the story of Dorian Gray is well known even by those who haven’t read it, the joy of Wilde’s wit makes it worth reading, again and again. I think you’ll get lost in the book and completely fall in love with the author.

I’m giving him WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT by Judith Kerr
This book is dog eared and well loved. It has my name (and age – 6) printed neatly in the corner. It was my book that I carried around with me, just looking at the cover and thinking that it was real, that it actually happened. That her daddy was just like my daddy, and it could have been me who had to disappear from my home and my friends. Judith Kerr’s book was my gateway to Anne Frank, to Alexander Solzhenitsyn and to Primo Levi. It was, and remains my favourite book. I know you will love it, and I know you will understand how important it is.

Are there any books that you are desperately trying to get other people to read? Which ones are you avoiding? Are there any books that have shaped how you read today? Any thoughts, let us know!

Girl meets Boy meets Books

Sometimes you have to do things you just don’t want to do. Sitting at the back of a classroom struggling alongside James Ramsay en route to the Lighthouse I am sure there are many who have thought – I just wish I could read what I wanted.

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Reading. The difficult stuff.

Sometimes after a hard day at school or work there is nothing better than collapsing with something that you know will do you no good but feels amazing, is warming, relaxing, easily digestible. It’s really hard work to trawl through something which is ‘good’ for you but that is difficult, sometimes boring, and often long.

So, in an effort to whip my reading muscles into shape, this January I embarked on a “healthy” reading kick. I took up a once a month reading challenge. Each month, I would swap books with a boy — a literary athlete who sprints through Dickens, vaults the American classics and thinks nothing of taking on a marathon Russian read. On one condition. He had to take on one of mine. So here’s how we have fared so far.

JANUARY

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I gave him MAUS by Art Spiegelman
When I read this book I realised that I had not read anything which so perfectly summed up the complex relationship we have with the Holocaust – coming from a Jewish family I realised how persistent its shadow rests on our perceptions of ourselves, our family and our shared history. As a graphic novel it excels in portraying a difficult story with a subtle touch. I knew he would love it and it was about as far away from Charles Dickens as I could think…

He said –
Maus was a really new one for me because I’ve never read a graphic novel and my exposure to comics as a child was minimal. I doubted how much it could actually affect me before I began, and having a vague idea of the subject matter wondered if it might somehow trivialise it. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. It was one of the most affecting, challenging and gripping books I’ve ever read. It gives us insight not only into the Holocaust itself and those directly involved but how it relates to our world since. Certain passages are more haunting than any fiction could ever aspire to be, and the drawings only seem to make the tragedy more human. It is simply a work that every human should read. It is that important.

He gave me THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
 I wanted you to read the Great Gatsby because it’s a true classic and in my opinion lives up to its billing as the Great American Novel. It exposes like no other novel I’ve read the harsh reality of the American Dream. Its characters are wonderfully alive and Gatsby himself so mysterious that the novel drags you along by the scruff of your neck through a world you at once abhor and desperately want to be a part of, until its sudden, devastating climax. I knew that you would be as affected by it as I was.

I said –
 It was okay. I mean – it was pretty good. I read it from start to finish and I enjoyed it. But it didn’t enhance my understanding of this world or transport me to a different one. Reading it I realised that adult books demand much more work of the reader. YA books should actively pull you into a different place. If you are reading adult sometimes you have to jump. But I can see why it’s a great classic. I think I should read it again to really get to grips with its nuances.

FEBRUARY

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I gave him WONDER by R. J. Palacio
We’ve often discussed where YA and Adults sit in relation to each other. Sure you can have brilliant books on both sides, but I wanted to prove that even books aimed at a very young audience can have a real impact on its reader regardless of age. Also, that this genre is producing really brilliant books all the time, and it’s not just the classics which are worth reading once we outgrow children’s books. WONDER totally absorbed me and stayed with me long after I had finished it. I really hope that he loves it as much as I did.

He gave me FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
I wanted you to read Fahrenheit 451 because it’s the best ode to literacy and literature I’ve ever read, without being preachy. Being a great advocate of libraries, literacy and literature for all, I knew this theme would strike a chord with you. I’m sure there is an endless number of themes you relate to in children’s books but there are just as many in adult books and some that will relate to you more as you grow older. Adult literature uses more complex language and metaphor than children’s so exposure to ideas that are likely to challenge your views or are simply a challenge to comprehend is always valuable.

The Final Word.

He said – You may disagree, but I feel it is rare in children’s literature to get lost in the language – the story world yes, and often, but rarely the actual language. With more adult writers, particularly Wilde, Fitzgerald, Updike and Dickens for me, you can get carried along merely on the beauty and musicality of the prose itself. I think more exposure to adult literature will probably be valuable to you as a children’s editor too as it just gives you another different perspective on ideas and writing and what can make a great story and what can make a story great.

I said  – I don’t know if I will ever love adult books like I have loved children’s. I can respect them and admire their cleverness, but will they worm their way into my very soul? A book you read as an 8 year old can become your best friend, I don’t know if I will ever form a relationship like that with a book that feels like my contemporary or adversary!

So I put the question to you: What books would you press into empty hands? What will rejuvenate and reinvigorate a tired brain? That copy of WAR AND PEACE? Or cosy up with a well-worn favourite. What do you think? Stay tuned to find out how the book swap fares….

Small things making it big (and gin!)

As a small company committed to producing only books we’re completely passionate about, it’s natural that we have a tendency to look out for other little guys around town.

There is something really special about discovering other ‘passion products’ – things that are built up by people who really care about what goes in, what comes out and the consumer experience. Recently, a few of us have had brilliant experiences with other companies who are doing really special things on a small scale but making a big impact!

Roaming around the backstreets of Hammersmith on a cold January night we could hardly believe that somewhere buried amongst the rows of neatly kept Victorian family homes with their straight hedges and polished letter boxes we would find a gin distillery. But indeed, knocking on the door of a seemingly tiny garage we were welcomed in to the tardis-like home of Sipsmith.

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I would very much like to give you a detailed run down of the history of gin, the ideas behind the project and the process by which a license was found and gin began to be produced. Unfortunately on being welcomed in, I was handed a gin and tonic that was exquisite in taste and high in proof, and I’m somewhat sketchy on the details. This much I can tell you – Sipsmith are the first company to receive a license to distil gin in London for over 200 years, and their ‘copper’ (the beautiful contraption named Prudence that distils the alcohol) is the only one like it in the world.

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Most impressive however were the people behind the project, and their passion for making beautiful things. At Sipsmith each batch is made by hand, with real ingredients and botanics – it is the only gin in the world made using the traditional ‘one-shot’ method rather than a concentrate. The result is an artisan product, one that takes time, energy and passion to create and as a result tastes all the better for it. Each glass was astonishing and the scents of almonds, chocolate, cherry and marzipan that wafted from the Sloe gin were quite wonderful. I am now determined to find a bottle to call my own! (and it is my birthday so… hint hint guys…).

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I was not the sole recipient of this incredible tour – I was also joined by my friend Natasha, the owner of a bespoke food business called Animal Vegetable Mineral. Coincidentally AVM are producing some very exciting treats to go with our SAVAGES mailing… but I won’t reveal the gory details. Natasha has made edible hair, bacon sandwiches, pineapple clouds and edible Antique prints. This is not run of the mill.

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When I told Amy O about my new found passion for the little guys she told me I had to check out Picco Salumi, a family run business dedicated to producing amazing salumi from the best British free range meats. When Amy last swung by she ended up sharing a plate of cheese, bread and meat with lots of local folk and even staying for dinner! It’s so reassuring that places like this still exist when every day a new Tesco’s or Starbucks sprouts from the ground like Bindweed.

Big companies are all very well – they churn out products that have been filtered, cleaned, filtered again, vacuum packed and sprayed down with disinfectant. They are clean, uniform, reliable…. And totally void of character, quirkiness, passion or love. Finding lovely people putting their souls into something special will make that thing all the better. It will be full of heart and love. It will probably make you live longer and grow taller (no scientific evidence on that one just yet….). Go into an indie bookshop and you will find someone who can rifle through towering piles of novels to pull out one just right for you. Log on to Amazon and a whirring machine somewhere in Switzerland can tell you that you definitely need fifteen different types of toaster even though you got one last week and you only accidentally searched for it….

Have you found any hidden gems? Any passion projects that are producing really beautiful things? Does anyone want to send me a bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin?

Book a gin tour here (@SipsmithSam)

Buy Salumi here (@piccosalumi)

Check out AVM curiosities here (@TashaMarks)

Buy HKB books here! (@hotkeybooks)

A little piece of a big, big universe

(This is a special post because it has a soundtrack – so hit play and read on!) Once There Was A Hushpuppy

As the BIG DAY draws nearer, and the hunt for the perfect present grows more urgent, more frantic, around the nation people are getting ready to gather around a tree/table/fire/TV and immerse themselves in a day of myth, fantasy and fiction.

For the religious, a visit to the church to witness the nativity story, one of the most amazing and most well-known stories. For others, a Dr Who special will serve up a different, but similarly captivating narrative. Leaving behind any debate over ‘the real meaning of Christmas’ it struck me that the 25th December is a day where, more than any other, our lives are so deeply entwined with creation, imagination and story-telling as to be totally reinvented.  Whether that is rehashing old family sagas or carefully constructing intricately woven winter themed festivities we sow story alongside our day-to-day so that the holly and fir trees, the twinkling lights reflect the magic of a baby in a manger, an ancient fleet-footed gift giver and reindeer-nibbled mince pies.

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New Pyjamas, mulled wine, stolen, ribbon and robins – these are constructs with which we inter-lay our cultural story with our narrative. Christmas is a season of Magical Realism – where fantasy is entwined with reality so that they are integral to each other. But this is not confined to December. Magical Reality is the process by which we weave stories in order to construct an optimistic human truth (stay with me….)

I recently watched a film that got me sobbing heartily within the first five minutes, and left me staggering home on the tube weeping inconsolably. Reliving certain scenes still has me welling up at inopportune moments. It was a story of joy and desperation and if you haven’t seen Behn Zeitlin’s  BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, do. It is genuinely one of the most moving, inspiring, heart-breaking stories I have ever had the privilege to witness.

In BEASTS, the lovely Quevenzhane Wallis plays the heart-strong Hushpuppy. A six year old with the whole universe dazzled in her hands. She lives with her father Wink in the Bayou, a community in the Deep South of America that is absolutely poverty- stricken but rich in love and story. There is a storm, and a flood and a catastrophe. There are also the Aurochs, terrifying prehistoric monsters that are slowly making their way towards the little girl as she fights for her Daddy, and for her town as they float on a giant raft through a chaos of water and devastation.

The Aurochs are both real and they are fantasy. They are the imagined creations of a child who is terrified, but fiercely brave. But they are also real monsters, fear, loss, a need for safety and stability. They are threatening but they are majestic – they terrify Hushpuppy, but they are also part of her. They are her fears, and her fearlessness. The Aurochs are the kings, but as Hushpuppy yells ‘I’m the man!’

Just like Hushpuppy, we spend our days weaving stories together to better understand our realities. Terrible things happen, awful gut wrenching tragedies that decimate families, and communities. They happen every day – and if we were to face this brutal truth how we would we justify our existence? But truth is not held solely by the rolling news channels. Perhaps our fictions are better truths than our realities. They are more honest, more articulate constructions of ourselves. Of what we wish for and are capable of. Stories are society’s statement to the universe. Even when terrible, awful, heart breaking things happen we know that human kind has a heart that can absorb bad and dream big, that can know sadness and still hope for better things.

Here’s to 2013 and making our stories reality.

Young Writers Prize – The Shortlist!

After many weeks of reading, discussing, debating and deciding we have finally narrowed down the entries to the Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize into a short list of 10 entries, 5 into the 9-12 age category and 5 into the 13-19 age category (see our press release here). We are hugely excited about finding our final winners but in the meantime….

Infographics!
We have created infographics throughout the process of reading, long listing and short listing for you to compare and contrast. We are particularly pleased with the international scope of the competition!

Over 300 entries!

Over 300 entries!

The final 10!

The final 10!

The long list of 20

The long list of 20

The Finalists

We were absolutely blown away by the incredible quality of the submissions that we received – cutting them down to 20 was hard, 10 near impossible! But we are very pleased to introduce our final 10 young writers…

9-12 Short List

Jake Schiffler – Ozer and The Proots

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Jake is 20 years old and has lived in Seattle Washington all his life.
Jake is studying Environmental sciences and English at University, and this is his first attempt at writing for children.

Cassie Leung – A Jar of Magic

Cassie 1Cassie is 21, she teaches English in Japan. Aside from writing, she tries to catch up on the list of books that friends insist she will love and learn Japanese so that she knows what she is buying at the supermarket.

Heather Lawson – That’s Charming
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Heather is 22 and lives in Fife, Scotland. Heather completed her first full length novel after trying out NaNoWriMo and has since written three more!

Cethan Leahy – Moor
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Cethan is 25 and is from Cork in Ireland. He has been writing fiction for many years and is also an avid film maker.

Kate Herrell – Ragamufffin

Kate HerrellKate Herrell is 22 and lives in Denver, Colorado.
Kate is an avid reader and loves acting, the theatre,  and the stage.

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13-19 Finalists

Alexa Adams – Pamplona

Press Release Photo - Alexa AdamsAlexa Adams is 22 and is in the process of acquiring a Master of Science in Library Science from the University of Kentucky. She works in two different libraries and spends her time learning how to be the best possible YA librarian.

Catherine Queen – The Twain

Catherine MillerCatherine is 25 and a newly qualified English teacher living in London. After a degree in Classics at Oxford University she spent a year teaching in Greece, where she fell in love with the country!

Joe Ducie – The Rig

Joe DucieJoe is 24 and lives in Perth, Australia, although he is originally from Cumbria. Joe has a degree in Counter-terrorism, Security and Intelligence. He has also studied Creative and Professional Writing at Curtin University.

Katie Coyle – Vivian Versus the Apocolypse

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Katie is 25, she grew up in a small suburban town in New Jersey. She has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh.

Katie O’Neill – The Clock Eye Corporation

Katie_ONeill_PhotoKatie is 21, she was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and studied Japanese and English Literature at the University of Canterbury. She is passionate about stories and illustration.

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We hope you enjoyed a brief introduction to our finalists – notice anything strange? Let’s put it this way… we think we have a bit of an ‘abundance of Katherines!’ You’ll be hearing a lot more from us, and from them – so stay tuned!