The winners of this year’s Self-Published and Small Press Awards (SpaSpa) have now been announced. This is the third year that these awards have been held as a way of celebrating the high quality work produced by independent authors.
The SpaSpa Awards are run by BookHippo (formerly Indie Book Bargains), which produces a daily newsletter featuring free and bargain ebooks. There are many diverse categories in the awards, reflecting the tremendous range of writing on offer from indie authors in the UK. They also include categories for best book cover and best drabble – 100-word stories which are a regular feature of the BookHippo newsletter.
Even appearing in the longlists for these awards is an achievement, considering the enormous volume of indie books published every year. So huge congratulations to the winners and everyone who was nominated!
But now that the 2014 awards have rolled around, this is the very last time I’ll be able to post this image. Damn it.
The new kid on the block is Jonathan Hill. His novel FAG won the Psychological Fiction category before steaming on to win the Overall Best Book of 2014 award. In addition, his novella Maureen’s Christmas Carol came top in the Humour category.
I thought I’d ask Jonathan a few questions in a handing-over-the-baton kind of way, and not remotely a jealous-of-this-young-upstart kind of way.
Interview with Jonathan Hill, author of FAG
A: Thank you very much, David. And thanks for inviting me. It’s been such a busy time for me lately that I feel I haven’t properly thanked readers and voters. I haven’t even written a blog post for my own (cobweb-strewn) site. Forgive me for such nauseating and clichéd words now, but I am so grateful to everyone who thought I deserved to do well. FAG was the big winner, of course, but it was still heart-warming to see my Maureen win too.
What was my reaction? Initially, that someone was playing a rather grotesque joke or that there was another Jonathan Hill writing very similar books to my own. When it sank in, it was just delightful and will be such a boost when I return to writing once things in my life settle down.
Q: FAG not only won its category but was voted best book of 2014. What do you think it is about the book that has appealed to readers?
A: Oh heck, what a question! I guess I think – or I like to think – it’s because the reader goes on a journey with the story’s characters. And, yes, I’m well aware it’s not an easy journey. As the author, I’m asking readers to put themselves through pain and suffering and they may well emerge the other end wrung out. But – and it’s a fairly significant but – it means they have not just read the book; they have experienced it. Which is what I set out to do. If you read my books and don’t experience some sort of emotion or change within, then I’ve failed. I write, not just to entertain, but to move and provoke thought. I’d far rather write a book which provokes such strong feelings of unease that someone is unable to read on – and this has been the case with FAG – rather than write a book which is pleasant and amiable and generally benign.
Readers have come to me and told me how the book has affected them, in some cases deeply. I’ve had reactions so strong, they’ve been almost physical in nature. That’s the key, I suppose. FAG is a book that is not just read; it’s felt. And that, in no small part, is down to its significance to me, its author. A whole bundle of raw emotion went into that book; a piece of who I am. And by the time you’ve read my note at the end of the novel, you see the book in context and realise that there were real Grays and Thompsons and that there still are real Grays and Thompsons. But things are changing. Things are improving. And to publish a book in times of such energising change is, well, rather wonderful.
Q: Finally, you don’t think you’re getting this massive diamond-encrusted trophy off me without a fight, do you?
A: Oh yes, I’m well aware I follow in your mighty footsteps. Just how big are your feet? I do not intend to resort to violence, Mr Wailing. I have a cunning plan that makes Baldrick’s cunning plans seem almost laughably pathetic.
Right this minute, while you’re in this room, interviewing me, someone is abseiling down your house and slipping in through the window I left open. You didn’t really think I needed the toilet, did you? In a matter of seconds, the prize will be mine. Mwahahaha. All mine. Mwahahahahaha. Mine, all mine. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA-
What the…? Maureen? Where are you right now?
Why, I’m in my armchair, dear. Homeland’s on. Where else would I be?
You’re watching Homeland?! You’re meant to be stealing the trophy!
I know I am. I put it in my diary so don’t worry about it.
What do you mean ‘don’t worry’?!
Stop flapping, dear. I’ll be there. This time next week, I’ll be there.
Maureen… it’s this week. It’s *this* week. It’s today. It’s bloody today. It’s now. It’s RIGHT BLOODY NOW!
Are you sure, dear?
Am I sure? Of course, I’m sure. I’m being interviewed this very second.
Oh my goodness, why didn’t you say? I need to powder my nose. He’s awfully good-looking, that Mr Wailing.
Oh for f…
Well, honestly. I ask you to do one thing… Anyway, I thought you hated Homeland. I thought you couldn’t understand the accents.
I can’t understand them, dear. Not a bloody clue what’s going on, but he’s ever so nice, that actor. The ginger one. You know the one. The one who was in that one on ITV. The one that I was always complaining about because it clashed with the one about the pastries. You know who I mean. He’s ginger. Speaks funny in this, though.
He’s American in Homeland. He speaks American.
I know, dear. I said he spoke funny.
He’s playing the part. That’s who… hang on a minute. What the bloody hell am I doing talking about this TV programme? You’re meant to be getting me my trophy. Now Wailing’ll have it for another year. Another year’s worth of mucky Auto fingerprints on it when it should be mine. Mine I tell you. Mine… Hello? Maureen?
It’s coming back on. Shush.
…And there you have it. Clearly Jonathan also plans to take over rival authors’ blogs as well as steal their awards!