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At The Peoples Book Prize

London was hot. Very hot. Arriving at Stationers’ Hall, a stone’s throw from Ludgate Hill, in the shadow of St Paul’s, I felt the first flutter of the ‘what am I doing here?’ nerves and wondered how long I could keep my cool.

We gathered in the foyer, all finalists. The men in black tie, the women, in an array of stylish dresses, from vibrant Nancy Mac to pastel Anthropologie. The shoes were as fabulous as the surroundings. There was tension in the air. Who didn’t want to win? But there was comradeship and celebration too.

Tatiana Wilson, founder and champion of the People’s Book Prize greeted us warmly and ushered us upstairs. We stood about chatting in the reception rooms while photographs were taken of us with our books. We were undoubtedly a friendly crew and one of the highlights of my evening was being in the company of other generous and talented authors.


After the first glass of wine, yes, I allowed myself just the one glass, I relaxed. I was keeping my cool. Guests arrived. We moved into the Hall and soaked up the beauty of its stained-glass windows and wood panelling, its white tablecloths and glittering place settings.

Then there was dinner itself. It did not disappoint and was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat. No way could I bring myself to spoil those delicate red nasturtiums that graced my starter by putting them in my mouth.

As dinner ended and proceedings moved to the prize giving, that flutter again. The First Time Author, the Non-Fiction and the Children’s prizes were all awarded. Fiction next I thought. But no, next came the announcement of the Best Achievement Award. It was a surprise to me. I really should have read the programme.

When Rupert, Master of Ceremonies, began to speak about the winning book, without first naming it, the flutter grew. Could this be my book he was talking about? I dismissed the thought. I knew nothing about this award. It had nothing to do with me. But by the time Rupert revealed the author’s birthplace and spoke of her work in women’s prisons, I knew it had to be me.

My cool flew up and out through the stained-glass windows. I somehow got to the stage. I hope what I said made sense. My prepared Fiction Prize speech which we were told to prepare in the event of winning no longer seemed to fit. I spoke off the cuff and felt very emotional. I still do feel very emotional.

If you read what was said about Sometimes a River Song, I’m sure you’ll see why:

An amazing, accomplished, beautifully written book.
Masterful storytelling
Gorgeous, captivating, innovative lyrical prose.
The People’s Book Prize wants to recognise its inspirational content to women all over the world, that despite an unfair society one can lift oneself out of misery through the strength and love of the women who fight together for a better life.
A magical book that speaks to every sense and to your heart.

When I returned to my seat I downed a glass of white wine and ate four hand-made chocolates in quick succession, just to steady the nerves you understand.

Following the final award of the Fiction Prize I drank a cup of black coffee. I never drink coffee after midday but it seemed like the right thing to do. The Prizes were done and congratulations were followed by winners’ interviews for the Sky video. I said my Thank-yous, principally to Tatiana.

It was time for goodbyes.

When I stepped out of Stationer’s Hall into the night, I couldn’t deny that the air had cooled but I was still hot, very hot, and it felt to me like the ancient heart of London was on fire, shimmering and beating around me.


Peoples Book Prize – Best Achievement Award

Dear Everyone

this is just to say thank you so much for all your support. On Tuesday evening in London at the Peoples Book Prize Awards, I was, much to my complete surprise, awarded the Best Achievement Award, the ‘jury’ prize as it were, for Sometimes a River Song. In awarding the prize they read out some of the comments readers had left when they’d voted – some of the reviews and also spoke  about women the world over who struggle with illiteracy -it was very moving and left me rather speechless.

More when I recover! (And a picture)  But in the meantime thank you, thank you

A x

Vote for Sometimes A River Song

Hi everyone – later today I will announce the winners of our free book competition – but now – da da!!

How to cast your very final vote for Sometimes A River Song to win the People’s Book Prize. You have just one week

Voting’s not that easy. I know it’s a labour of love so thank you, thank you in advance for your efforts! And here’s how with  links to help

Go to the Peoples Book Prize website- finalists  – or  click on this link – Finalists 

If you voted before (which is allowed) and are already registered put in your email address and Password. If you’ve forgotten your password (quite likely) – they will send you a new one BUT IT MAY GO TO YOUR JUNK MAIL.

If you have NOT voted before you need to register first with an email and Password of your choosing. To register click where it says register in blue or follow this link

Once you have the email and password sorted – enter them.

Scroll down the page find Sometimes A River Song – click on the box for a green tick, then click below to vote

Scroll back up – solve the easy maths sum and click on SUBMIT – it’s that easy!! Not! But a huge thank you if you persisted.

Love A x



Win a Free Copy of Sometimes a River Song

On a happier and more celebratory note (than my last post!) we are giving away 6 free copies of Sometimes A River Song, to celebrate the up and coming final of The People’s Book Prize. The giveaways can be found here: on my Twitter (just a simple RT is all it takes) and on Linen Press’s Facebook.

We’d love you to enter, even if you’ve read Sometimes a River Song (and if you haven’t you can read the first chapter free here ) you can always give a copy to a friend.

Happy weekend!


Met these three on my morning walk, gorgeous aren’t they?



On Never Writing a ‘Mother.’

I’ve had this post in draft here for a while. I wasn’t going to post it – too revealing- but it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so here goes

After I’d been writing for a while it dawned on me that I never write a mother – not really. My mothers are always dead or absent  or very much in the background.

Perhaps it’s not surprising. I had a very difficult, often impossible relationship with my mother. Towards the end of her life, when for the first time in mine I dared to criticise and disagree with her, she disowned me completely.  For a number of years we had no contact whatsoever and that was both heartbreaking and an utter relief. We were reconciled briefly before her death.

The unhappiness and pain of this relationship never leaves me, despite counselling, despite becoming a mother myself, despite everything. Somehow the guilt of it still lies heavy on me. But recently and purely by chance, I came across this website – Are You a Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother? Take This Brief Survey to Find Out.

I took the survey – and was quickly reeling with the number of ‘yes,’ answers. I needed to explore more. Since then I’ve done other similar surveys and have been equally astonished by how much they reflect what was going on between my mother and myself, including all the inappropriate confidences and behaviours.

I’ve read the books too, devoured them, highlighting nearly every page. Now things have begun to shift. I find I no longer feel quite the same guilt. I no longer feel so ashamed – there’s an explanation! (I am always looking for explanations) It was real and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. Just like I couldn’t do a thing about her depression or attempted suicide.

Sadly ‘the problem with being a child of a narcissist is… it takes years to finally see that the type of parenting they’ve been receiving is wrong – if not emotionally abusive.’ S Myers. Yes, its taken me years to undertand the deep sadness I carry, that never leaves me and deeper still my own sense of unworthiness. To understand that my own mental health was compromised and that in the end perhaps no one is to blame. Neither her nor me

But I’m getting there, and who knows,  soon, I may even be able to write a mother…

Five Quotes from Natalie G

w MI wasn’t going to write today. There is so much going on in my writing world at the moment (to do with all the other stuff writers have to do) that I’d given myself permission not to. But then I just happened to start reading Natalie Goldberg’s, Wild Mind, (again) and before long the notebook was open and guess what? I’d written about 750 words. And they were good.

Natalie G never fails me. She is my all time, favourite, go-to  when the well is running dry. Here are 5 great quotes from her, that I noted down today, it could have been fifty:

When her lawyer friend becomes  a writer she tells him,  ‘You’ve entered a different path. You can’t just leap into the lake of writing in a three piece suit. You need a different outfit to swim in.’

‘A river and a tree are not unconscious. They are part of wild mind.’

‘Let yourself live in something that is already rightfully yours – your own wild mind.’

‘Continue under all circumstances. No excuses.’

‘Don’t be tossed away. If your kid falls and needs stitches, write in the waiting room…’

Now, how could I not write after reading that?


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