If you are thinking slick, corporate and stuffy - then think again. This was the most fun I've had for ages.
The short listed books were
- The Ice Cream Con by Jimmy Docherty
- Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray
- Strangled Silence by Oisin McGann
- Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie
- Spider by Linda StrachanSo it was strong competition indeed!All 5 authors were taken away to be interviewed as soon as we arrived. We had two seperate interviews which were very professionally done, even if the recording equipment gave a bit of trouble for one chap. But he realised in time to have another shot at it.
There were competitions for the best review of the shortlisted books, a quiz on the authors and their books and a prize for the best RED accessory- so many to choose from!Everything was accompanied by lots of cheering and excitement but I think my favourite part was watching the 10 drama and powerpoint presentations - two of each of the books. It was great to see our books interpreted in this way by the very people we write for.
I was very impressed by the schools who had taken on Spider.Bo'ness Academy had the first presentation of Spider with a scene from the hospital, with a very confident young man playing the part of the policeman taking statements from the other characters. It gave a really good feel for the story while not giving too much away for anyone who hadn't read it.
St Mungo's High school did the second presentation on Spider with a very different take on it, using powerpoint images, props and actors to create a quite vivid and shocking sense of a car crash, followed by groups of kids wandering around as if in a school playground discussing the rumours that were going around about Spider and the crash.In the afternoon before the winner was announced all of the authors were invited to speak for a few minutes each introduced by a student from one of the schools. As it was in alphabetical order, by our surnames I was the last to speak.Jimmy, Oisin and Keith, all very funny guys, did comedy which had the room roaring with laughter, so it was a bit of a challenge for Sophie and I to follow them. But it was really fascinating to listen to the different way each of us approach our books and writing.Yvonne Manning the librarian who masterminds the Red Awards and acted as MC on the day deserves a medal for her hard work and enthusiasm.Falkirk's provost Pat Reid was there to award the prizes looking quite splendid in his official RED robes!
Finally we got to the part where they announced the winner- Blood Ties by Spohie McKenzie - a great read. Sophie was presented with an especially commissioned plate by local potter Barbara Davidson.But I truly believe the real winners of the day were the amazing young people who took part, and their enthusiasm for books and reading.
Oisin McGann, Jimmy DochertySophie McKenzie, Keith Gray and me!