Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Crystal Kite Winner: SHINE by Candy Gourlay (SCBWI British Isles)

Our spotlight this week is on Candy Gourlay and her novel SHINE, which won the Crystal Kite Award for the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

Award-Winning Author Candy Gourlay

Here's Candy!

Hello Lee and hello SCBWI readers! When SHINE got shortlisted for the Crystal Kite Prize in our region, I was up against some really big hitters! Fractured by Teri Terry is the second of a trilogy that has been winning prizes all over the place. And Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein is the sequel to Elizabeth's brilliant Code Name Verity which was a Golden Kite Honor Book, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and winner of an Edgar. Here is the Crystal Kite video we played at our November conference when I was presented with the trophy.

 I was thrilled to win -- it's my second Crystal Kite. My debut novel TALL STORY won in the very first outing of the Crystal Kite Award in 2011. Here is a photo of the two trophies. The new trophy is BIGGER than the 2011 one!

ABOUT THE BOOK SHINE was the second of a two book deal -- and when I first pitched it to my publisher, David Fickling, I said I was writing a vampire novel. Not with a conventional European vampire but with a Filipino vampire. It's got an unpronounceable name - manananggal - it's a beautiful girl by day and when the sun sets, it sprouts great leathery wings and rips its upper body from its lower half then flies off to suck away the souls of people. It sounds like a great idea, but when I finished it, I wasn't at all happy. I realised that it was not the book I wanted to write -- I don't even enjoy reading vampire novels! So I did another draft, taking away the vampire and turning the story into a thriller. And I hated it. It was at that point that my editor -- the author Simon Mason -- sat me down and told me: "When you rewrite this, don't take the approach that you have to fix it. Look at what's GREAT about it." And he spent the next hour telling me what he thought was great about the story. When I left the meeting, I knew what I wanted to write. SHINE is about a girl named Rosa who has a strange condition that makes her a pariah in the superstitious island where she lives. And so she lives out her life on the internet where she can be whoever she wants to be. She is befriended by a boy who turns out to live nearby and when he suggests that they meet, she is afraid of what he'll think when he realises that she is a monster. Entwined with this story is a ghost story. On Rosa's island, people believe that leaving a burning candle on your window sill will summon ghosts. So every night, Rosa lights a candle at the window because she wants her dead mother to return. One night, there is a knock on the door ... and there is her mother.


SCBWI MEMBER OF A DOZEN YEARS According to my SCBWI account, I've been a member of SCBWI since 2002! That is more than 12 years! When I visit schools, I talk about the Hero's Journey - you know, Monomyth - introduce the hero's ordinary world, the hero is called to adventure, the hero meets a spirit guide ... that kind of thing. Well I feel that in my long journey to publication SCBWI has been my spirit guide because it feels like SCBWI took me by the hand and has been leading me every step of the way. Joining SCBWI raised my game. Meeting people much better than me made me realise that I had been underestimating the level of craft I needed to get through the door. Volunteering with SCBWI put me into the middle of the world I longed to be a part of, even though I was still a wannabe writer. I realised that by working with SCBWI I was already living the life. I was one of the winners of the very first batch of Undiscovered Voices, the competition created by SCBWI British Isles that, six years on, has put SCBWI authors and illustrators on the map, here in the UK. Winning UV got me my agent and eventually my first book was published in 2010.
On the year my first book was published, I (selfishly) proposed that SCBWI BI hold a mass book launch party at our conference. Here we are at that first book launch. We've held it every year since then and our numbers just get bigger and bigger!
I am grateful to SCBWI for all the opportunities that have come my way. But the thing I value the most is the treasure trove of friendship that my involvement has given me. There is a video on Facebook of my acceptance speech for this year's Crystal Kite. In it, I say: thank you, SCBWI, for being my family which I mean from the bottom of my heart.

ADVICE FOR OTHER CHILDREN'S WRITERS Trying to get published is a long hard slog. And it's full of danger. Because in taking this journey, it is so easy to forget your real reasons for doing what you do. So let me remind you: You are writing because you want to tell a story, not because you want to hook a commissioning editor. You are not writing for children because it's easier than writing for adults. You are writing because the storytelling voice inside you has something to say to young people. The writer's life is not about leafing through your books in the shop, being adored by your fans and signing autographs. The writer's life is sitting down every day and doing the thing you can't help but do. And that is the life you're living now, whether you're published or not. So congratulations.

Thanks, Candy!

I also contacted Natascha Biebow, Regional Advisor of SCBWI British Isles, to find out more about their region and Candy's win. Here's what Natascha wrote:

The British Isles region are the largest and most active of the international regions, with over 30 events annually. 
Candy is one of BI's treasures - her boundless energy and enthusiasm and constant innovation is truly inspiring. Despite a busy work schedule, Candy is the sort of person who comes up with an idea and then makes it happen. Candy won the BI's Outstanding Contribution Award in 2011), but never one to rest on her laurels, Candy has continued to forge new paths for SCBWI BI with amazing dedication and good humour. She has worked tirelessly over the long term to provide SCBWI BI with a slick, professional online presence. This year, Candy has rebuilt our website (again) into one of the best amongst SCBWI regions and actively worked to create PULSE events, including our first PAL Librarian Event in London. As if this weren’t enough, she has introduced an entire new PULSE strand (this is our strand for PAL authors) to the annual conference and, rather than just leaving it to others to organise, she has done most of the logistical hard work herself that will make this aspiration a reality. Her constant hard work and dedication are a powerhouse that helps the rest of the team to push forward, motivated, inspired and in focus. She is tireless in her efforts and never shirks a job, even when busy on all her other projects. She always has a good word to say and is welcoming and courteous to all those around her. Her energy and enthusiasm seems boundless. Natascha
Thanks to both Candy and Natascha, and Cheers to Candy for SHINE winning the 2014 Crystal Kite Award!

You can learn more about Candy at her website here.

And dive into more about SCBWI British Isles at their online home here.

Illustrate and Write On,


Chitra Soundar said...

Shine is a brilliant novel - and I loved Tall Story too. Shine inspired me to go and think about what is under the surface in my own stories. We all know Candy is a superwoman - her disguise is not very good. I also want to thank her family for sharing her with us - she does spend a lot of time with her SCBWI family

Juliet Clare Bell said...

My new favourite quote:

"We're in it because we want to live a storytelling life"

(that was you, on facebook this morning). Beautifully put. Huge congratulations and I can't wait for your next!

Candy Gourlay said...

Aw thanks Chitra.

Candy Gourlay said...

It's such a roller coaster, I've just got to believe it! Thanks, Claire . I can't wait for YOUR next book! Nom Nom nom ...

kathryn evans said...

You will ever be one of my favourite writers and one of my favourite people. I will always be grateful to SCBWI for making you part of MY family x