Island Life, Word Birds & Process
Last year it was loudly promulgated, by the few who can never resist, that nominations for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize were largely the result of in-house publishing/author nepotism. There’s a trickle this year too and it’s silly. Occasional irresponsible lapses notwithstanding, the idea that I would nominate a book by one of my sister Honno authors just because she’s published by Honno makes me itch.
I nominated Not Thomas by Sara Gethin before I realised other people had. As a single nomination secures a place on the NTBP longlist and other people had already picked everyone else on my list I tried to ‘cancel’ my vote (you can’t delete it), spread my net wider and nominate See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt and The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engels both of which I adored. (I don’t know either of these authors so no one can accuse me of bias.)
In truth, I wouldn’t care if they did. Not Thomas was top of my list purely because it’s a beautiful book: an extraordinary story which deserves to win prizes. There was no partiality. I simply love the book and I’m proud to be published by a press with such discerning taste!
My list of possible nominations included Su Bristow’s exquisite Sealskin
and Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech, both published by Orenda Books a publishing house for which I have a huge regard. Each of these authors has endorsed my forthcoming novel, Snow Sisters. Does that make my choices in some way reciprocal back-scratching? The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull was on my list too – she gave me a wonderful quote for my first novel, Ghostbird. Does that constitute some form of sycophantic favouritism? Not in my view. All it means is I’m fortunate to know a bunch of brilliant, generous writers!
Pish and twaddle, frankly. And all things in my world being eminently equal – the very best of luck to everyone nominated for this fun prize. In particular, my favourites!