Last Thursday the annual ACT Writing and Publishing Awards were held in the Mercure Hotel and I had two books shortlisted in two categories. The Sound of Silence for Nonfiction and Two Steps Forward for Fiction. Pretty nice, huh?
First up was the announcement of the Nonfiction Award. An anthology about miscarriage seemed an unlikely winner, but win it did. The judges said: ‘The Sound of Silence was the stand-out winner on every level. This book proved to be compellingly readable, boasted good production design and evidenced careful, respectful editing. Although neither of the judges initially expected to be taken by this volume, both ultimately found it absorbing and uplifting. The writing was of the highest quality and deserves a readership well beyond its niche market. In short: An inspirational book and a clear winner.’
Their assessment recognises so many aspects of the book. For me, editing The Sound of Silence was a privilege. Many of the 22 writers had not previously been published, but they worked with me through the lengthy editing process with such grace and enthusiasm. This award acknowledges their strength and courage in telling stories that will help others affected by miscarriage.
Having collected my award (including a Paperchain Bookstore voucher that has already disappeared), it was straight onto the announcement of the fiction category. This time Two Steps Forward didn’t win, but the judges’ comments were generous nevertheless. They said: ‘A strong point of this anthology is the characters, who were beautifully drawn in a lyrical and evocative style. It would be interesting to see how this writer would develop characters over a longer work. The pace is well maintained, with each story engaging, fresh and avoiding sameness in plot, although the overall sadness is a hallmark. Each story is a complete experience on its own, and this writer has a distinctive, lyrical style that is a standout.’
Nigel Featherstone took out the award for his novella Fall on Me, and I couldn’t have ‘lost’ to a more lovely and deserving person. Inverted commas are necessary because nothing felt like losing that night; it was wins all round.
What with these awards, Two Steps Forward being shortlisted for SPUNC’s inaugural Most Underrated Book Award, and publication of The Invisible Thread, 2012 has been a good year. I think a celebratory glass of champagne is in order.