I’m delighted and honoured to announce that I have been asked to join the final panel of judges to pick the overall winner of the 2015 Costa Book Awards. As reported in previous posts, I was a member of the judging panel for the children’s category, which I will now be representing when the prestigious £30,000 prize for book of the year is decided ahead of the awards ceremony in London next month.
The five winning books from each of the categories – Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s – will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on January 4th (with a prize of £5,000 for each author) and one of these titles will go on to be declared the overall winner at a star-studded event at Quaglino’s restaurant, in St James’s, on January 26th, to be hosted by presenter and broadcaster Penny Smith. The nine-strong panel of judges will meet that afternoon to discuss the books and reach a decision.
Chair of the panel will be James Heneage, the historical novelist and founder of the Ottakar’s bookshop chain. The other judges are: Jane Asher, actor and author; Katy Brand, writer, comedian and actor; and Janet Ellis, actor, broadcaster and writer, as well as the five writers who will be representing the award categories which they helped to judge – Julia Copus (poetry), Louise Doughty (novel), Matt Haig (first novel), Penny Junor (biography) . . . and me!
This will be my second visit to the final Costa awards ceremony, having been invited as a shortlistee in the children’s category, with Flip, in 2011, when the overall winner was Andrew Miller’s novel, Pure. My abiding memories of that evening (through a haze of seemingly limitless free champagne) are of eating too many lemon-curd mini-doughnuts and standing in the cloakroom queue in front of Ian Hislop. Who says a writer’s life isn’t glamorous?