Books for Children and Young Adults are very much alive and kicking in Wales with The Welsh Books Council announcing the titles on the shortlist of the prestigious Tir na n’Og Awards for 2016. The awards celebrate a special 40th birthday this year and there is much excitement surrounding the announcement of the winning title! And I would hope much cake!
Great news for Firefly Press this year as two of their titles are Highly Commended.
I am DELIGHTED to say that one of them is my first book ‘Elen’s Island’! Hurray that Elen is making waves. I’m thrilled. Particularly as I am about to take up my post as Writer-in-Residence at Oriel y Parc in the stunning St. Davids here in West Wales.
They are exhibiting someone called Constable (or something) at the same time so I’m in good company.
The other Highly Commended Firefly Press book is ‘White Petals’ which I can thoroughly recommend as an enormously good read.
I caught up with the lovely Maria Grace to ask her a few questions about ‘White Petals’ and her future plans.
1) What is White Petals about?
White Petals is a YA Fiction novel, set in Wales. It’s a heartwarming comedy about a 14-year-old clairaudient who has been taken into care because her mother has had a nervous breakdown. Narrated by the protagonist Emmeline, the story follows the teenager as she learns to deal with her new-found psychic ability at the same time as trying to adjust to life in a children’s home. And if that’s not enough on her plate, she also has a mother in hospital and a school bully to deal with!
I hope that I’ve written my characters to be as loveable on the page as they are in my imagination. To me, they are all nitty-gritty characters that make you cringe, laugh, and want to be their friends.
The novel combines the mystery of psychic phenomena with the reality, dry humour and refreshingly frank view of the care system. It also deals with the difficult but normal issues that teenagers deal with in their everyday lives: family, friendships, school, opposite sex, parents, grief, bullies and facebook relationship statuses.
2) How does it feel to be Highly Commended?
It feels great! 😀
The thing is, I think that when you first start writing, you can’t help but think of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the reality is that for many writers – including myself – it’s not like that. Sometimes, it can take a while to get the pot of gold, and as time goes on, you realise that to even get the rainbow, you need to accept the rainy days. And as we all know, rainy days are not all that pleasant! So, when your art gets recognised for the time, effort, commitment and creativity that’s gone into it, that gives you a real boost. Those times are your rainbows. And for my novel to be Highly Commended alongside such wonderful authors… That’s such a lovely feeling. I’m very grateful.
3) What are you working on at the moment?
I’m just finishing my first children’s book for 7-9 year olds, and I also have a little spark going off in the background for a second YA novel with a gorgeous protagonist (not gonna lie, I’m fangirling on her already!).
I’m hoping for some good progress with new projects in the next year or so.
Janet Thomas of Firefly Press said ‘Everyone at Firefly Press is thrilled to see two of our books highly commended by the Tir na n’Og judges. This celebrates that Elen’s Island and White Petals are great, memorable stories with authentic Welsh voices and characters. It’s brilliant to see such different first books, by two new writers with such exciting futures ahead of them, getting this recognition.’
Well, I am just so excited to be a part of the vibrant writing scene here in Wales and am extremely thankful to the Welsh Books Council, Literature Wales and Firefly Press for their encouragement and support. It makes me want to write more about the beautiful country I live in and the endless array of characters I get to meet here.
Yay for books in Wales! Yay I say! And congratulations to all the short-listed writers and the Highly Commended too. Gold Star for each and every one of you.
For full details of all those listed in this year’s awards go to The Welsh Books Council website.
For more information about me visit my website at
Or pop over! I’ll put the kettle on…