The Carnegie Feeling

I have never been one of life’s winners when it comes to sport, barely even scraping third in the 1979 St Mary’s Primary sports day yoghurt-pot-and-umbrella race (actual race, involving running wildly around the field with an empty Ski pot skewered on a black umbrella, also featuring the ‘doughnut race’ in which we fought to eat a dangling doughnut in as short a time possible, in the days when Jamie Oliver was eating school chips a few miles down the road, not outlawing them). But, while our esteemed headteacher seemingly had little regard for a) health and safety and b) what is considered a standard athletic test and what is not, what he did value was words. And, just a few months after this staggering sporting non-achievement, I felt the thrill of my first publication when, having written an extra verse for one of our school hymns, Rev Roe typed it up for me, photocopied it, and stuck it down in every single copy of Come and Praise.

I have been chasing that feeling ever since, getting the same flush of achievement when I type ‘the end’, when I see my first page proofs, when I walk into a bookshop and see the first print run on the shelves, when I see someone reading – actually reading – one of my books. And, more rarely, but equally thrilling, when I see a title on an award longlist, or shortlist, or, as today, amongst the nominations.

For Everybody Hurts to be up for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (the Olympic gold of children’s publishing) is not something either Anthony McGowan or I entertained when the seeds of Matt and Sophia’s story were sown in a few minutes of snatched conversation in the South Bank Centre. We were uncommissioned, and unsure where we were going most of the time, writing for the sheer joy of words on the page, ping-ponging chapters back and forth over weeks and months, and eventually three years. So, regardless of how much further we get, today is the icing on the cake. It is the thrill of a typed-up hymn verse glued down with Copydex, and so much sweeter than that dangling doughnut would ever have been.

For the full list of nominations for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals, click here.

To buy the book, click here.

About Joanna Nadin

A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature. I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name. I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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2 Responses to The Carnegie Feeling

  1. Kathryn Evans says:

    Congratulations!!! A nomination like this is the best- fingers crossed for the long list!

  2. RachelHamiltonBooks says:

    Wow! This is the day for good news. Everyone is having an amazing run of it at the moment and it’s just lovely. Perfect timing too, as your and Anthony’s book arrived by courier exactly one hour ago. Shows what excellent taste in literature I have! Fingers crossed for the next stage x

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