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Kick wins the Branford Boase Award 2018

Kick has won the Branford Boase, a prize that is awarded annually to the author and editors of an outstanding début children's novel. The Branford Boase has recognized many of my favourite authors over the years, and so to receive the award myself is a wonderfully surreal experience, not least because I came close to abandoning Kick on several occasions.

Below is the speech that I gave at the award ceremony, held on Wednesday 4th July 2018 at Walker Books.

Firstly, I would like to thank the Branford Boase judges for choosing Kick as the recipient of this year’s award. I am sure you must have debated the shortlisted titles extensively, and given the achievements of authors nominated in previous years I have no doubt that Costa prizes, Carnegie medals, and countless other accolades await my fellow authors in the years to come.

The Branford Boase is, of course, a prize that recognizes debut authors and their editors, but I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my agent, Felicity Trew, without whom Kick might never have been published. It is easy to forget – once a manuscript has been polished and bound into a beautiful book – that it was once just an email in an inbox overflowing with emails. So thank you, Felicity, for believing in Budi’s story from the very beginning.

I would also like to thank my wife, Harriet, for putting up with me. Behind every writer there is someone living in the real world: paying bills and running errands and encouraging the writer to socialise every once in a while. You could have told me to go out and get a proper job, but you didn’t, and I promise to take you out for cocktails when you are less pregnant.

Finally, I would like to say something about my editors: Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker. Now, if you speak to Rebecca and Becky they may try and tell you that they didn’t really have that much work to do on Kick. They would have you believe that the book just magically appeared, like a crop circle. But novels, like crop circles, appear unmagically: they are the result of lots of people’s hard work and meticulous planning. And Rebecca and Becky trampled plenty of crops. They suggested changes that, to my mind, transformed Kick into the best book it could possibly be. However, if they insist on being modest about their contribution, think about this: if Kick was in such good shape when it was submitted to Usborne, why did I need two editors?

Kick is ultimately a story about dreams – for the future, for a better life, for a fairer world. I have occasionally wondered what I might say if one day my dreams came true, and I liked to think I could probably come up with something a bit more dynamic than: this is a dream come true. But it turns out that some clichés are hard to improve upon: winning the Branford Boase is, sincerely, a dream come true. Thank you.

For more information about the Branford Boase, including the other shortlisted titles, visit the Branford Boase website.

Photo credit: Branford Boase Award

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