It was my first time in Northern parts as an author, so I asked the organizers if I could swing a school visit or two. They obliged and as a result I had a fun session with children from St Peter's CE School and Clifton Primary School in Swinton Library.
Pamela Manley (Children and Young People's Library Service Manager for Salford) acted as my driver, bodyguard and shopping director (we stopped at a very exciting pound shop for urgent sundries) and Lynne Ashworth of Swinton Library rounded up the children. Thank you, oh lovely librarians!
|Me and Pam, post pound-shop - I later found out it was her birthday! Happy birthday, Pam!|
Photo courtesy of Pam Manley
|The view from my hotel which was a short walk along water to the Lowry where the awards were taking place. These photos are in black and white because I had my camera on the wrong setting so the colours were all wrong. I forgot to take a photo of Manchester United's stadium across the water ...|
|To get to the Lowry, we walked down this beautiful avenue of trees along the water. That's author Pat Walsh, shortlisted for The Crowfield Curse, sporting superstar sunglasses in the bright sunshine.|
I was excited to meet author Alan Gibbons who anyone with a pulse in the book industry would know as a tireless campaigner to save our libraries. He's been my friend on Facebook for years.
On FB this is what he looks like:
But I was astonished to discover that in real life he looks like this:
He sings, he roars, he does animal impressions and Elvis impressions ... OMG!
He tried to comfort all the nervous shortlisted authors present by talking about the gazillion times he'd been shortlisted for the SCBA prize ... and lost.
Okay. So maybe it wasn't that comforting. But it was MASSIVELY entertaining - the man burst into song and rocked and rolled all over the stage. And don't worry, he may have lost those shortlistings but he has won the Blue Peter (for Shadow of the Minotaur) as well as a gazillion other awards.
|We were in stitches!|
Then they got the authors to go up on stage, one by one, to say a few words, take a few questions.
Unfortunately, they sent us up in alphabetical order, so I had to speak first. I remember nothing.
|Each author was escorted up the stage and introduced by children who participated in judging the prize. Sam introduced Tall Story - you can see by my expression that I'm wondering how I'm going to top his brilliant presentation! Photo: Nick Harrison|
|Ally Kennen explained why her book about burning corpses was a good idea. Sparks is about children wanting to give their grandpa a Viking funeral.|
|Richard Platt, who has written many books but in non-fiction, talked about the inspiration behind Double Crossing, his book about immigrants arriving in America.|
|Pat Walsh talked about digging up old things and rubbish and wondering how they got there. No, she's not a gardener, she's an archaeologist.|
And then along came Jon Mayhew, author of Mortlock and The Demon Collector
|The boy introducing Jon read out loud his favourite excerpt from Mortlock, which involved dead bodies rising out of the ground or something disguisting like that ... Jon promptly began to act it out.|
|... do not feed this man ...|
|... blood, gore, guts, etc etc ...|
|Chris Priestly (stolen from his Facebook page)|
|... MICHAEL MORPURGO FOR Shadow!|
|Wait, Michael Morpurgo sure looks a lot smoother and more feminine than he normally does. Okay, that's not Michael Morpurgo - apparently he was somewhere over the ocean in an aeroplane ... so he sent his friend Mary Byrne|
|... and no, Jon wasn't disappointed at all.|
(lest you think Jon really did burst into tears - this shot came from the moment earlier when Jon described his sorry life as a browbeaten, younger brother )
|And honestly, I didn't mind losing to Michael Morpurgo ... in fact I enjoyed telling my kids, 'I lost to Michael Morpurgo' - they were sufficiently impressed that I was on the same shortlist.|
And here's my trophy picture with Michael at last year's Hay Festival (I snuck up behind him to get my picture taken and he caught me)
|Photo: Sarah McIntyre|
|Great souvenir shot of the SCBA crew by Nick Harrison|
|Afterwards there was almost an hour of book and what have you signing - I got to test drive my new stamp ... if ever I'm in your part of the world, make sure I get that stamp out, it's so cool ... but I absolutely refuse to stamp anyone on the forehead no matter how much they beg. Photo: Nick Harrison|