My First World War book, The Wreck of the Argyll, has been shortlisted for the Great War Dundee Children’s Book Prize, a competition run by Dundee Libraries in association with Cargo Publishing. The brief was quite specific – to write a children’s book about Dundee in the First World War. My story was a tale of two plucky Dundonian youngsters who foil a German spy plot, set against the real-life historical wreck of the Royal Navy armoured cruiser HMS Argyll on the reef near the Bell Rock Lighthouse.
I’m tremendously excited by this, as you can imagine! There are just three books that have been selected for the shortlist, and in March next year, I’ll find out whether my book or one of the other two stories has won the prize, which includes publication by Cargo Publishing. Even if I don’t win, it’s amazing to have been selected as part of such a small shortlist, and you can be assured that any future submissions I make to agents will proudly proclaim that I was shortlisted for this competition.
Dundee is a city that’s building a real cultural reputation for itself. This isn’t the first Dundee literary competition – the Dundee International Book Prize has been running for over 10 years. There is a V&A Museum of Design forthcoming in 2017, a £45 million project set in a spectacular Kengo Kuma-designed building. The award ceremony for the Great War book competition will be held at Discovery Point, an exhibition and museum built around Captain Scott’s ship the Discovery – coincidentally, this is my partner Sandra’s favourite part of her native Dundee. I lived in Dundee for a year when I was at Dundee University doing my Master’s degree (more years ago than I care to remember), and every year when we visit Sandra’s family I’m amazed at how much the city is changing.
It’s quite an honour to be part of this cultural renaissance, even in just a small way.