My children’s book, The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst (FINALIST in the People’s Book Prize) was released a year ago this month. To celebrate, I’m running a giveaway on Goodreads beginning TODAY. Enter here for your chance to win one of THREE free copies. All I ask is that if you do win a copy, once you’ve finished feverishly turning the pages, you would find a moment to post a review on Goodreads and Amazon. THANK you kind readers.
The 7th Peoples Book Prize award dinner took place last night in the splendid Worshipful Company of Stationers’ Hall in the City of London. With 36 finalists, publishers and guests, the atmosphere was happy and supportive – there is something liberating about a prize decided entirely by popular vote. Every finalist called up to the stage was there because lots of people loved and voted for their book; good news for authors, publishers and above all, the public, who’ve shown that books and reading are things to get excited about.
It was great to meet up again with fellow former prize winner, Giles Paley Philips, whose entry, Little Bell and the Moon, is truly magical, with Giles’s beautifully cadenced poetry matched by Iris Deppe’s outstanding illustrations. In fact the standard of the finalists overall was so high, I’d prepared myself for a stiff competition and wasn’t too downhearted when Milky Moments by Ellie Stoneley scooped the prize.
A new category, Best Publisher, was introduced this year, for which I was delighted to discover that my publishers had been nominated. Congratulations Sarah Taylor of Troubador, it was brilliant seeing you at the dinner, even if Troubador didn’t end up winning!
Which sums up my experience of the evening overall: it really wasn’t just about the winning. What mattered was being there at the finals, meeting other authors and publishers who’ve come from all over the world, and celebrating together.
Thank you, all you wonderful people who backed The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst,
enduring stoically my stream of PBP reminders over the last few months. Without your support the book would never have got as far as it did and if it didn’t quite equal Ante’s Inferno’s achievement of winning the People’s Book Prize 2013, being a Finalist in 2016 is a pretty close second.
Well, folks, today’s the day…. the winners of the People’s Book Prize 2016 will be announced at Stationers’ Hall, London, tonight. As one of 12 finalists in the Children’s category, I am looking forward to this evening with much excitement and a good dollop of nail-biting. Thank you all you wonderful people who sent in your votes. The wait will be over SOOOOOON.
Here’s a lovely article that appeared in Saturday 9 July Oxford Mail.
Delighted to have been interviewed by the People’s Book Prize as one of the FINALISTS (voting closes 10 July – only 5 days left!)
⌈ Vote Now ⌋
In the lead up to The People’s Book Prize 2016 we caught up with author Griselda Heppel to talk about her Children’s book
Griselda grew up in Germany, the land of black forests, red and white toadstools, gingerbread houses and lonely castles bristling with turrets. With Grimms’ Fairy Tales as her backdrop, the magic and stories have become a firm part of Griselda’s make-up. After graduating from Cambridge, Griselda worked in publishing, got married, had four children and was somewhat distracted for a few years. But in the back of her mind stories grew and in 2012 she released Ante’s Inferno. Returning with The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst (publication August 2015) tackles the Faustian legend, interweaving Elizabethan magic, demons and historical mystery into the everyday life of 13-year-old Henry, who’ll do anything to overcome his problems, even follow…
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The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst By Griselda Heppel
Published by Matador ISBN 9781784623043 Spring 2016
The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst has reached the FINALS of the People’s Book Prize. Follow the link below to read more and VOTE! The winner of each category is decided entirely by public vote so it’s up to you. Closing date: 10 July.
Synopsis: In the shadows of Walton Hall a demon lurks. His name: Mephistopheles. In 1586,…
Well, I hoped to learn a few things… but the amount of useful information I took away hugely exceeded all expectations. If you want a model of an intelligently put together, well-run, stimulating conference, with something to offer everyone no matter how new or, er, not-so-new to the writing business, this year’s Self-Publishing Conference at Leicester on Saturday 7 May was it.
Keynote speaker Caroline Sanderson, Associate Editor of the Bookseller, set the tone. Self-publishing was no longer the poor relation of traditional publishing; instead, it’s producing books of top literary, design and production values. Of the titles that have caught her eye she showed us 8 self-published ones, in a range of genres, whose striking cover designs match the high quality of their contents, all of which deserved as much recognition as the best of books produced by more traditional methods. Her enthusiasm was echoed by Professor Alison Baverstock of Kingston University in the plenary session later in the day, whose research into the effect self-publishing has had on the book market in the UK has led to some fascinating results.
In particular, Alison demolished that old, tired slander: ‘self-publishing is publishing without an editor.’ On the contrary, her researches show that authors independently seeking critiques and other editorial services have opened up a whole new area of employment to delighted freelance editors, no longer solely dependent on traditional publishing companies.
Arranged around these two addresses were four individual sessions to choose from and that’s where the difficulty started. How to select from the several talks on different aspects of writing, editing, designing and promoting offered for each session? At least my first choice presented no problem: I’ve long wanted to know about audiobooks and the chance of an hour’s instruction from James Peak, owner of Essential Music, was too good to miss. He did a brilliant job – with a kind of engaging scattiness – of describing the process, including tips on how to save money by reading your book yourself – gulp. I filled four pages of notes.
Then came the Historical Fiction session, and – gulpissimo – my first ever experience of speaking at a conference, rather than just making notes and eating cake. Luckily a maximum of 5 minutes was expected from me and the panel audience listened kindly to my dos and don’ts when writing historical fiction for children, agreeing that this was now a sadly neglected genre compared to the great days of Rosemary Sutcliffe, Mary Renault, Roger Lancelyn Green and Henry Treece. Helen Hollick, heading the panel, gave illuminating insights into the historical fiction market for adults, both in the UK and the USA, while Lucienne Boyce’s contribution was a truly awe-inspiring lesson in serious, detailed research, from Real Books In Libraries (away with Wikipedia!) to original magazines, newspapers, site visits and railway timetables.
Two more sessions followed lunch (which included macaroons!* Bliss).
Mike Bodnar’s amusing talk on Self-promotion for Self-publishers provided a wealth of ideas, some standard, some cheerfully quirky, on how to get your books flying off the shelves (actually, trundling steadily would do for me); while Clive Herbert of Nielsen’s explanation of metadata and ISBNs proved much more interesting than you might guess from those rather scary words, and gave information that every author, however published, should know.
In between sessions it was great to mingle with other attendees, eat cake, make new friends and meet lots of lovely Matador people whose names I knew well but who I’d never spoken face to face with before. All in all, congratulations to Troubador for hosting a super conference and looking after us all so well, not least with the many refreshments provided throughout the day, right up to delicious, restorative canapés at the end (wine too but alas I was driving).
And did I mention there was cake?**
*The First Rule of the Enid Blyton school of writing: tell them about the food.
** See note above.
A deliberately loaded question, I know. Implying that a Golden Age existed once in which children devoured stories set in another period…. and now maybe not so much. If there’s a grain of truth in this assumption, guess what: it’s not the children’s fault.
Growing up, I remember historical fiction in children’s books was huge. Giants like Mary Renault, Geoffrey Trease, Roger Lancelyn Green and Leon Garfield dominated the bookshelves. They had the knack of creating exciting, moving, well-written stories that plunged their readers into a different world where we absorbed details of language, customs, real people, events and battles without even realising it. Because what mattered above all was the story, powered by strong, finely-drawn, sympathetic characters.
Sounds familiar? That’s because this is how all good fiction works, whether it’s for children or adults; historical, romantic, thriller, fantasy. Children will go for a good story, no matter when or where it’s set. While they don’t need to know anything about the period beforehand, by the time they’ve turned the last page they’ll know a great deal, and this gives them a sense of empowerment included in the sheer enjoyment of the story. Contrary to what many adults think, children can fall easily into the rhythm of language spoken in a different period, with unfamiliar words. As long as the context explains the meaning, it’s fine. Writing the historical parts of my books, Ante’s Inferno (World War 1) and The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst (Elizabethan England), I was determined not to dumb down the complexities of the period or the language for my readers. Young people’s response to my books has been not just enthusiasm for the stories, but also delight at being given something to get their teeth into. They know when they’re being taken seriously and when they’re being patronised.
No, the problem isn’t with the children. It’s with what they’re offered. And my impression is that the portion of the market historical fiction used to enjoy is now occupied by fantasy. This is also a wonderful genre, boasting books by some of the best writers around today, but in creating purely fantasy worlds it can’t do what historical fiction does. There are signs that the pendulum is swinging the other way, in Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries series, for instance, and Lucy Worsley’s recently published Eliza Rose. The success of these and other titles show that children will seize on stories set in different time periods just as much as in parallel worlds.
Come on, fellow historical fiction writers, your market is out there!