From the winner of last year's Sony Young Movellist UK
"Last week, my sister told me I was on a teen display table in Leeds (here I obviously mean my book – I was not laid out on a book display table designed to advertise to teenagers, because I’m pretty sure that is illegal or at least highly inappropriate).
The week before I ventured into my local Waterstones and found my book on the shelf for the first time. It was very tempting to casually recommend the book to the teens browsing the shelves, but I’d already received a few strange looks thanks to my attempts to take a decent photo. I resisted.
I’ve spent years half-sarcastically looking at bookshelves and thinking I’ll be there one day with no real conviction… but somehow, that whole publishing thing happened.
My friends have dedicated themselves to the cause of publicising the book. It usually takes about ten minutes after I’ve met someone for the first time before someone inevitably says ‘you know Helen has a book?’ I have lost count of the number of times I’ve told people that ‘it’s a young adult dystopian novel.’ It’s like my new tag line.
The problem here is that my friends occasionally do this after they’ve had slightly too much to drink. My best friend pointed at me and said, loud enough for the whole bar queue to hear, ‘she’s on amazon. Find her on Amazon’ whilst one of my coursemates dramatically informed his friend that I was ‘in every whetherspoons in the country’ (the next day, he assured me through his hangover that he did actually mean Waterstones). At a think and drink social where philosophy students and lecturers meet at the pub, one of my coursemates told my lecturer all about the book. After the next seminar, he told me that his wife had bought it.
It’s all really very strange.
It’s even more strange to think that this time last year I hadn’t even heard of the competition and certainly hadn’t finished writing the book that I now have twenty or so copies of (although my stocks have depleted after Christmas, but seriously… cheapest Christmas ever). Honestly, I’ve spent a lot of the past few months with everything still feeling pretty surreal. There’s still one of those kick-yourself moments a couple of times a week.
Writing has been my dream for as long as I’ve had a dream. I didn’t think that it was ever going to happen, so I diluted it a little bit – I told myself that as long as I had time to write, then I could be happy. That’s probably true… but this whole thing has reminded me that you’re supposed to believe in your dreams and take them seriously, because sometimes it works out.
I’m still wading through writer’s block (which I’ve never had like this before… it’s rubbish – avoid where possible) and trying to find time for writing and planning in between uni work and real life. Now, though, when I tell people I want to be a writer and they raise their eyebrows in that ‘good-luck-you’re-going-to-need-it’ fashion I get to pull out the published card and watch them squirm.
Thank you so much for the opportunity, Movellas. It’s been utterly incredible. I feel blessed every day.
Now, if only I could get somewhere with the sequel…"