Hope & Persistence

Some interesting debate around the Carnegie Medal again this year. The Bunker Diary has been described as bleak and without hope, Room meets Lord of the Flies. It seems to be the lack of a happy ending that persuades some adults of its inappropriateness for children. Author,  Kevin Brooks says that children don't need to be 'cosseted with the artificial hope that there will always be a happy ending' because in real life often there isn't. Discuss.

I've yet to read The Bunker Diary and I should because my WIP is a Room meets…  but I have read Shine by our own SCBWI British Isles', Candy Gourlay which has not only won SCBWI's Crystal Kite Award for the The UK & Ireland, it's also been long listed for this year's Guardian's Children's Fiction Prize on quite a short longlist of eight!

Huge Guardian congratulations go to two other SCBWI members as well,  Piers Torday, also part of our British Isles' Chapter, for The Dark Wild and  the US' Kate Di Camillo for Flora and Ulysses who 'collected hundreds of rejection letters' before she was published.

Prompted by Kevin Brooks, I've been considering 'hope' and how 'a vain hope' did not become a cliché for no reason. Hope can often be as vain as real life endings are unhappy. Often, but not always and that's where the hope lies - in the tantalising possibility that all could be well, that someday someone could offer representation, buy your book, slap a medal wherever it is medals are slapped.  It's people like Kate Di Camillo who stabilise wavering hopes and widen the slimmest windows of possibility with attitudes like this…

…when so much is out of our control, I love that persistence is something we can control.  And this is why we have stories like yesterday's, of octogenarian José Patterson's success with The People's Prize and Janet Foxley whose experience as an older debut you can read about on Wednesday. Janet, in fact heralds a hopeful month - July is Debut month.

Last week we had a diversity (hurray) of Unicorns from Ken Lymer - they're often white but not always, the wonderful image of Nick Cross manning the school fête bookstall - just can't get Shirley Hughes' Dogger out of my head and some possibly plot enhancing Americanisms to watch out for 
from Catriona Tippin. To conclude our month of Dahl,  we also had an illustrator's discovery of the ecstatic art that is Quentin Blake's from Heather Chapman.

Next week, with Janet Foxley, we have our latest Podcast and that's TOMORROW with Sarah Odedina of Hot Key Books . What's the one thing Sarah wishes every author would do? Hmm… 'tune in' to find out. And Heather Chapman will be with us again, reporting on the recent Illustration Fair.

Hoping your hopes are ever widening and never wavering;  published, unpublished writers and illustrators I wish you another week of persistence...

...and pay offs. Congratulations again Candy, Piers and Kate,

Jan Carr

P.S. We had a lovely time with Sarah Lean in Southampton on Saturday - write up to follow!

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is all over the place, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta. You can contact her at editor@britishscbwi.org.


  1. Thanks so much for an extra inspiring post - love that video of Kate Di Camillo. And thanks for the mention.

  2. "Critical levels of self-disgust"? Sounds like every Monday morning to me!

    Honestly, though, you've outdone yourself here, Jan, with a very inspiring piece - I suspect you're talking to yourself as much as us :-)

  3. Thanks Nick, i treasure those kind words. And yes, that post started out quite differently before i read Candy's FB post reminding us that Piers and Kate were on the Guardian list too which led me to Kate's wonderful videos.


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