Love, fantasy and magic are the common themes between two of the winning categories of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults announced last night – Best Young Adult Fiction and Best First Book. For a full list of all the winners see here.
The Best Young Adult Fiction prize went to Elizabeth Knox for Mortal Fire, described by Paula Green as “a story of love, desire, friendship and teenage turning points, yet it is much more. It is also a story of politics – the lengths a community will go to stop a hydro dam flooding their precious Zarene Valley. It is a story of outsiderness, whether through the colour of one’s skin, abilities or bloodline. Above all, it is a story of trust.” She goes on to say that “Knox writes with such a graceful hand that the story (despite its mist, steam and smoke) reverberates with exquisite clarity.”
The Best First Book award went to R.L. Stedman for A Necklace of Souls, a book that won the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2012, and already has an average rating of 3.83 stars (out of five) on Goodreads.
Rachel enjoyed researching for A Necklace of Souls and surprisingly “read a lot of books about things like knife fighting and breadmaking” in the process, which she recorded in the form of a research board on Pinterest. Last year when she was asked what was the best thing about being a writer, she replied, “You get to write :). Most writers seem to really like finding out new things. I think most writers are little like ‘fact magpies’ we get to learn new stuff every day and we can call it ‘research.’ For example, through writing A Necklace of Souls, I learned a lot about knife fighting. I read a whole lot (and watched a lot of you-tube videos) about Kali knife fighting, which is from the Philippines. And I know how long an English longbow is – over seven foot. That is taller than most men. Do you know, if you use a long bow a lot, the bones in one arm grow heavier than the other? Skeletons of archers have bigger left arm-bones than the right. That is why writing is so cool, you get to learn random stuff every day. (Makes you good in quizzes, too!)”