Angus Book Award 2014
And the winner is....
Cllr Sheena Welsh, Max Kelly, Sarah Hammond, Chloe Anderson,
Phil Earle, Robert Black and ABA 2014 Winner Matt Whyman
Matt Whyman, for his novel The Savages published by Hot Key Books. Matt was presented with his trophy, a replica of the Aberlemno Serpent Stone and Ł500, on the 20th May at Monifieth High School. The ceremony was attended by all shortlisted authors and participating pupils.
After several months of debate, decision making and a secret ballot in the eight Angus secondary schools, the three shortlisted authors arrived from all over the UK to visit schools and speak to the participating pupils.
On his visits to Arbroath High, Brechin High and Montrose Academy, Phil Earle encouraged pupils to read for enjoyment; read whatever you like. He spoke of how characters such as, Batman, Flat Stanley and Roy the Rovers all played a part in his love of reading. He shared the impact of a seeing the dead bodies of soldiers being returned from war and his relationship with his brother, the influences that led to him writing Heroic. While out visiting Carnoustie and Webster’s High, Sarah Hammond told us how a simple poem about a child in a ‘slow reading class’ had touched her heart and inspired her to write the novel, The Night Sky in my Head. Imagining childish taunts of ‘backwards,’ she turned this around to make it her character’s superpower and backwards became Mikey’s psychic gift to see the past. Sarah then invited pupils to pick something from her Big Bag of Writing Tips and went on to explain how memories, dreams, change and imagining yourself as your characters all help in writing a successful and exciting story. On his visits to Monifieth High School, Arbroath Academy and Forfar Academy, Matt outlined how he had taken the inspiration for the novel he is working on at the moment from a news item about sink holes he had heard whilst he was visiting Angus last year. The idea of an underground world populated by trolls who have been secretly leaving their offspring in the place of human babies formed his “back story” and he used this to illustrate how to take an initial idea and turn it into an engaging story. He linked this to research which identified that all stories - books, films or video games - basically have 12 stages. He compared the structures of Toy Story, Wizard of Oz and Call of Duty and touched on how he had then played with this structure in The Savages.
Competitions were run for the best designed alternative book jacket and the best book blurb of the shortlisted novels. This year’s lucky participants are Justyna Buthiewicz from Arbroath Academy for her version of The Night Sky in My Head and Kirsty Morris from Carnoustie High School for her version of Heroic. The winner of the book blurb competition was Dawn Stewart of Forfar Academy for her blurb on Heroic.
With both authors and pupils waiting to hear the result of the secret ballot, the atmosphere was one of nervous anticipation at the evening event, hosted this year by pupils from Monifieth High. Pupils from all schools introduced the short film presentations that were created by each school on each of the books and why they deserved to win. The authors then spoke of their appreciation on being shortlisted for the Award. Finally the waiting was over and pupils Max Kelly and Chloe Anderson of Monifieth High School opened the golden envelope and announced the winner.
Accepting the award, Matt Whyman said, I am thrilled, shocked and honoured to win this prestigious award. For me, it's the high point of a brilliant day visiting schools across Angus and meeting such enthusiastic young readers together with two inspirational authors, Phil Earle and Sarah Hammond. The trophy will take pride of place in my kitchen at home - where the idea for the story about an ordinary, hard working family of cannibals began.
Max Kelly, Matt Whyman, Chloe Anderson and Robert Black