THE BOOKSELLER YA PRIZE WINNER | PATRICE LAWRENCE

THE BOOKSELLER YA PRIZE WINNER | PATRICE LAWRENCE

 

Everything in my head is a story – a snippet of conversation, a tiny article in a magazine, a glimpse into a kitchen window from the Overground train heading north from Deptford. Not everyone knows how that feels, but Hay is full of people whose brains work like mine.  In the Green Room, the thrum of ideas is almost audible.

Or that could have been the rioting butterflies as I waited for the YA Book Prize author panel. I was even too nervous to play ‘spot-the-celebrity-without-actually-looking-at-them’.

My only other time visiting Hay was last year. It was my first ever literary festival as a participant.  Sat under the chips of light in the Starlight Stage with Eve Ainsworth, Juno Dawson, Martyn Bedford and Daniel Hahn, I felt like a proper author. Orangeboy is my debut novel. Feeling ‘proper’ takes time.

A year later, I am there because I am shortlisted for The Bookseller YA Prize. It is a very unexpected turn of events.  I am wearing a lucky dress and my mother can probably see my hair from Sussex. I have my contact lenses in, so I’m probably just short of seeing her too.

It was a privilege to hear the other writers talk about the inspiration for their books. Corpses, Nirvana, great white sharks and eyeballs all featured – as well as themes of friendship, grief, betrayal and belonging.

And they called my name. I heard it through my heartbeat. I held the trophy and managed to call up words.  I still have to run my fingers across my name engraved in the glass to believe it’s true.