I’m delighted and honoured to announce that I have accepted an invitation to be one of the judges for this year’s Costa Book Awards. The prestigious award, formerly known as the Whitbread, is one of the top literary prizes in the UK with a total of £50,000 up for grabs.
The award is divided into five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s, which is the section I’ll be judging, along with Melissa Cox, Head of Children’s Buying for Waterstones, and Andrea Reece, a children’s books reviewer and Managing Editor of Books for Keeps.
Between us, we will be considering around 120 novels for children and teenagers before selecting a shortlist of four books and the eventual winner in our category. Each category-winning author receives £5,000 and their book goes forward to compete with the winners in the other sections for the overall Costa Book Award of £25,000.
This year’s entries should start thumping on to my doormat from early July and I’m very much looking forward to reading them over the summer and autumn ahead of the judges’ meeting. My previous stints on literary judging panels – the Betty Trask Awards and the Olive Cook Prize – were both hugely enjoyable and I can’t wait to get stuck into the Costa.
This will be my second involvement with the award, having been shortlisted for the children’s prize in 2011 for my debut young-adult novel, Flip. Recent winners in the category include Kate Saunders for Five Children on the Western Front, the new children’s laureate, Chris Riddell, for Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, and Sally Gardner, for Maggot Moon.
The other writers on this year’s judging panels are: Matt Haig and Hannah Beckerman (First Novel); Louise Doughty (Novel); Penny Junor and Jane Shilling (Biography); and Julia Copus (Poetry).