Ok, so it wasn’t quite the Oscars but this week’s Manchester Book Award ceremony http://www.manchesterbookaward.com/ certainly had more than its fair share of glitz and glamour. Not surprising, when you learn that Puffin had not one, but two authors on the shortlist! I took myself Oop North (that’s how it’s said, right?) to show my support, and maybe do a bit of cheerleading, for the absolutely adventurous David Gilman, creator of the Danger Zone series, and the king of dark fiction for older teen readers, Kevin Brooks.
David was particularly chuffed to be nominated for The Devil’s Breath, his debut novel and the first in an ecological action adventure series starring the rather swoon-some Max Gordon. (He has no time for Alex Rider’s girly gadgets. He is way better looking than Boy Soldier. And he can fight blind albino crocodiles in the sewers beneath a castle deep in the Namibian desert, no problem. Eat your heart out Mr.Bond…).
Being Manchester, naturally the skies were grey and the rain abundant. But the atmosphere inside Manchester City Football Club – the glam venue for the ceremony – was pretty electric. Hundreds of children across the city had been reading feverishly for months, and voting for their favourites.
The original longlist of twenty-four had been whittled down to six finalists which were: Danger Zone: The Devil’s Breath by David Gilman, Being by Kevin Brooks, Girl, Missing by Sophie MacKenzie, Beserk by Ally Kennen, Do the Creepy Thing by Graham Joyce, and Nemesis by Cathy MacPhail.
The ceremony was hosted by compere-extraordinaire Paul Sleem; an ex-professional basketball player, the founder of brilliant organisation Mission Respect (www.missionrespect.com) and a Reading Champion. Even the Lord Mayor of Manchester was in attendance, blinged to the max in his heavy gold chain, and tussling with Paul over some hidden EasterEggs! With music blaring, round tables full of kids cheering, shouting, and stamping their feet the ceremony was bags of fun for everyone, especially the authors.
The organisers had run a competition around each title and entrants could submit either a review or an alternative cover. As each author was called up on stage, the huge plasma screens that dotted the walls played videos of the winning writer reading their review and an extract from the book, before the winning artist presented the author with a framed version of their cover. And I may not have had the guts in the end to get up and join them, but some of the guests had actually prepared a cheerleading routine. With pompoms and everything. A-mazing.
Sadly for Puffin, Sophie MacKenzie scooped the prize with Girl, Missing. She’s a very nice lady so we didn’t mind too much, even though we know that David and Kevin were clearly more deserving. After the ceremony, starstruck schoolkids queued for hours to have their books signed by their favourite authors, and the next day, David visited two Manchester-schools to tell the kids all about the lovely Max Gordon – and his not-so-lovely adventures . . .
Puffin Publicity Manager