Dame Jacqueline Wilson
Dame Jacqueline Wilson has given a major financial boost to the Branford Boase Award again this year. She comments:
“I have a special affection for this prize since I was invited to be the first Author Judge in 2000. Since then the prize has grown in stature with 36 titles submitted last year (2004), reflecting a great enthusiasm for new writing amongst publishers and readers alike. It can be such a struggle for new writers starting out that I am thrilled to be able to offer this support to a prize which can make a real difference to their prospects”.
Philip Pullman talks about the crucial relationship between editor and new author:
The Branford Boase Award is one of the most imaginative and useful prizes there are. Imaginative, because imagination is a way of seeing the truth about things, and the truth about writing and publishing novels is that a good editor is a story’s best friend and wisest counsellor. There are other people whose job is to do other kinds of things connected with the profession of writing: an agent will make sure the writer has the best financial deal, a publicist will make sure the book is as widely known as possible, librarians will bring the book to the attention of eager readers – and so on; but the real work is done when author and editor sit down together and work at making the story as good as it can possibly be. There are few rewards for editors, apart from the satisfaction of seeing ‘their’ books do well – but no-one knows what their contribution has been; and the Branford Boase award is a welcome and important way of celebrating what editors do.
And it’s useful, because of course the award is shared, rightly, by a new author. Recognition at an early stage is a valuable boost to a writer’s career: not so much as to swamp it with unreal expectations, but enough to let them and everyone else know that their work is going to be worth watching. I’m very glad that the Branford Boase Award exists to do the excellent work it does, and also to celebrate the names of two great contributors to this business of making stories work as well as they possibly can.
Mitch Johnson – BBA Winner 2018
“Winning the Branford Boase Award has played a key role in my development as an author. To be recognised by such a prestigious award so early in my career has given me confidence, renewed my ambition, and led to a multitude of new opportunities. I am sure I will look at the trophy in years to come and still take encouragement and inspiration from it.”
M.G. Leonard – BBA Winner 2017
“Winning the Branford Boase Award is an honour that I didn’t dare to dream of. It is highly respected, and the previous winners are a wild storytelling bunch of writers that I admire. To be initiated into the gang has opened doors for me, given me confidence and sparks my imagination every single day.”
Horatio Clare – BBA Winner 2016
‘Winning the Branford Boase Award was a wonderful life-changer; it took the book to many readers, sent me around the country to events and whispered in my inner ear that I might really be a children’s writer!’
Rosie Rowell – BBA Winner 2015
Winning the Branford Boase award has been a huge blow to the morose ‘all is lost’ voice inside me. Each time I sit at my computer and it starts the ‘I can’t write, it’s too hard!’ routine, I now reply ‘Yes, you can, now get on with it!’
I feel tremendously honoured to have been given such a wonderful boost at the beginning of my career and to share it with my editor, Emily Thomas, who made all the difference to Leopold Blue.
The BBA celebrates the very best elements of the writing life and is something I’ll always take with me into the lonely wastelands of blank pages.
Chelsey Flood – BBA Winner 2014
The Branford Boase Award is an important prize because it celebrates the fundamental role of the editor in the production of great literature. Writing a novel is a solitary endeavour, but publishing a novel is a collaboration, and it is a privilege to work with a talented editor who not only loves your writing, but has a deep understanding of how stories work, and what readers want.
The Branford Boase Award draws the attention of audiences and the media to new writers worth watching, at the same time as it provides debut authors with the self-confidence required to push on with the next book. Winning the Branford Boase Award helped my first book to stand out in an extremely good looking and brilliant crowd, and it continues to sustain me as I begin my third novel.
Dave Shelton – BBA Winner 2013
Well, obviously I’m biased, because I won it and got given money and an inflated ego, but, even allowing for that, I think the Branford Boase is a wonderful, important and unique award. It is wonderful because it encourages new authors, those delicate creatures full of talent and self doubt. Being nominated gives them an extra reason to believe in themselves, to continue beating their heads against the page, writing, rewriting, re-rewriting and generally turning their brains to mush for the sake of a small advance and the possibility of some insane one star reviews on Amazon. And one more reason to write book number two. And it is important because it gives publishers just a little more reason to risk an advance on new and unproven writers instead of relying on their established names going on forever, another reason to nurture and encourage and show faith in the exciting but uncertain talent of the new boys and girls. And it is unique because it recognises the importance of the role of the editor, a role too seldom even mentioned, perhaps because it is normally only noticed at all when done badly. Done well, editing is an invisible art but, to all but a very few, a vital one, and all the more so to new authors. Editors are our guides in a dangerous new world. They steer us gently away from tempting disasters, occasionally suggest a turn down a welcoming path we hadn’t spotted, and generally help us to reach our destination safely – perhaps even triumphantly – while graciously allowing us to delude ourselves that we got there all by ourselves. They are saints. And while the pope may not see it quite the same way that I do, at least the Branford Boase Award can give them a congratulatory and appreciative nod. It is a wonderful, important and unique award, and it is built upon a genuine love for good writing for children, and upon a belief in its absolute necessity.
Annabel Pitcher – BBA Winner 2012
Waiting for your first novel to be published is thrilling and terrifying in equal measure. When I was writing My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, of course I wanted it to be read as widely as possible; when that dream was on the verge of coming true, however, I was filled with fear. Will people like it? What if no copies sell? How will I cope when the inevitable bad review appears on the Internet?
It is so important that this award exists for nervous debut novelists who are exposing their work in public for the first time. This special prize acknowledges the courage it takes to become a writer, and the crucial role an editor plays in guiding and nurturing that writer through their first publishing experience. Winning The Branford Boase Award was a fabulous boost of confidence for me, much needed and greatly appreciated, and a fantastic way of recognising the expertise and kindness of my editor, Fiona Kennedy. The certificate now lives on my mantelpiece – and under its encouraging gaze, I’m working happily on my next novel.
Jason Wallace – BBA Winner 2011
The Branford Boase Award is as exciting as it is important.
It is exciting because it offers something to both readers and writers. Respectively: a collection of fresh, stimulating talent to explore; and an opportunity (and so enthusiasm) to make a mark at the very start of a sometimes lonely journey that can, without question, seem incredibly daunting and complex.
It is important because it not only acknowledges the work of the author, but of the editor too. Writing is often seen as a solo task, and for a lot of the time it is, but the editor’s talents are what, ultimately, make the book. Without their craft, skill, awareness, patience and – as it often seems – sixth sense we are nothing. An author cannot survive without their editor. So for that alone the Branford Boase Award should be celebrated with both pride and thanks.
Lucy Christopher – BBA Winner 2010
Winning the Branford Boase Award gave me something that countless writing classes and hours of sitting at a computer keyboard never could – a sense of validation….a sense that, finally, I’d become an author! It’s given me pride and confidence : a sense that writing can be a career now as well as a dream. The best thing about this award is sharing it with my editor. The editor-author relationship is such an important one to recognise and value. Writing a book is like building a wall – I can put all the bricks together and make it look like a wall, but I really need my editor to add the final mortar! I’ll always support and praise the value and importance of this award, and recognise that it added a significant push to my writing journey.
B R Collins – BBA Winner 2009
Winning the Branford Boase is a huge honour. I was really overwhelmed, and delighted too that the prize recognises Emma, my editor, as she thoroughly deserves it. It’s wonderful to get such a vote of confidence for my first book, and particularly exhilarating – if slightly scary – when I look at the list of previous winners. Now all I want is to live up to it!
Siobhan Dowd – BBA Winner 2007
I’m moved beyond words at winning the Branford Boase Award. Henrietta Branford had a razor-sharp intellect and compelling honesty in her writing. Fire, Bed and Bone, which I’ve just finished, leaves me mourning the books-that-might-have-been had breast cancer not so cruelly taken her from us. This is an award that taps you on the shoulder and whispers “Hurry up and earn me.” I promise to do my level best.
Frances Hardinge – BBA Winner 2006
It is very easy for a first time novelist to feel like an impostor, to spend their time fretting that everybody who has shown faith in them will some day realise that they’ve made a horrible mistake. Winning the Branford Boase came as a glorious shock. I hope that for many years to come it will provide other new authors with a similar jolt, and help them feel like ‘real writers’.
Meg Rosoff – BBA Winner 2005
How many good things can you cram into a single award? The Branford Boase honours the memory of a close and successful writer/editor team (Wendy Boase and Henrietta Branford) reminding us that it isn’t just the lonely writer and the computer who create a good novel. Add to that, a great rush of recognition for the ever-pessimistic first novelist, convinced his/her readership will be limited to members of the immediate family, and you have a prize that buoys spirit and ambition. (Now if only we could have a similar incentive for the painful second novel, to counteract the winner’s tendency to imagine his/her career has already peaked….)
Mal Peet – BBA Winner 2004
For someone like me, someone not exactly brimful of confidence and self-belief, winning the BBA was a wonderful thing. It gave me the necessary cheek, the bottle, to carry on writing. So although it’s an award for first novels, it’s a unique encouragement for second, even third, novels. It’s what a prize should be: a pat on the back that sends you staggering forwards.
Kevin Brooks – BBA Winner 2003
Winning the BBA was a very special moment for me, a moment I’ll remember for ever. As a writer, it’s always encouraging to have your work recognised, but what makes the BBA special is that it gives that encouragement at the time when a writer most needs it – at the beginning of his or her career.
Sally Prue – BBA Winner 2002
The thing about the BBA is, that when I won it I was so new that I hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on. The thing that really made me realise what a special occasion it was, was when we got to the Oxo Tower afterwards (and I’d never been to a posh restaurant before) and they had a special FRIDGE for our flowers…I’m still hugely impressed by that! And, of course, now I understand more about the BBA, I’m totally gob-smacked at how LUCKY I was.
Winning the BBA was a huge confidence boost: the moment when I stopped being so completely terrified at being published, and really began to enjoy it.
Marcus Sedgwick – BBA Winner 2001
Writing is a very hard game, and one of the biggest obstacles to starting is the fear of committing yourself to paper, and having people judge what you do. In retrospect, I think the most important thing the Branford Boase Award gave me gave me was validation: it gave me the confidence to believe that I had a right to do what I wanted to do.
Katherine Roberts – BBA Winner 2000
What did winning the Branford Boase Award mean to me? Confidence! Whenever I feel worthless, the Branford Boase butterfly gives me the courage to spread my wings again.