Tuesday 5 November 2013

Libraries & Librarians, Carnegies & Greenaways...

I'm a little stunned today, because I just found out that Phoenix has been nominated for both the CILIP Carnegie Medal for outstanding children's books, and the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration.

This is huge to me.  The Carnegie and Greenaway Medals are some of the biggest awards a book can be nominated for – but more importantly, they're nominated by librarians, and librarians are among the most important people in my world.  Because I write in libraries.  I love libraries.  Phoenix would literally not exist without them.

You see, I'm not disciplined enough to work at home.  I waste whole days looking at the internet, having baths, etc.  But in a library, I don't mess around; I get down to work.  It's quiet, and everyone else is working, so I feel it's only right that I should too.

I can't claim that libraries  shaped my childhood.  My family was a migrant one; we came to Britain when I was two years old, and older members of my family never lost the sense that some things out there were "for the British, not for us".  Among these were the NHS and public libraries; so sadly, we never used them.

Andrew Carnegie

Instead, I discovered libraries as an adult who was finding it impossible to work at home, and losing my way as a result.  Libraries saved me.  They gave me a quiet space to work in, with a nice big desk and lots of handy research material – and crucially, opening hours.  Because once you decide that you work in a library, you can't put your work off until midnight; the library isn't open at midnight.  You've got to get it done during the day.  That really helps keep you sane and disciplined when you're writing something that takes years.

I don't even talk to anyone when I go to the library.  I just show up, do my work, and go home.  I'm just another public library user, and I love that. 

Kate Greenaway

The most familiar faces for me are the librarians.  They're unsung heroes, in our culture – even more so in recent years, with all the cuts – but I see what they do, day in, day out.  They are brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.  They're the ones who create this amazing space where reading is valued, where books are the most important things in the world.  Can you imagine what that means to someone whose whole life is focused on writing books?  Librarians are total stars, as far as I'm concerned, and without them my work would never get done.

So this is a massive thank you to all the libraries I've written in, to all the librarians who created that space – and to whoever noticed Phoenix, and nominated it for these awards.  It means more to me than you can possibly imagine. 


Ivan said...

Dear SF Seid
I congratulate you on this truly deserved award!

SF Said said...

Thank you very much, Ivan! Though it's not an award, it's a nomination for an award – the longlist will be announced in February 2014, then the shortlist in March, and then the winners in June (more details here...) But it means a huge amount just to be noticed and nominated!

SF Said said...

Thank you so much, Philippa! And thank you for all the support over the years, from Varjak Paw to Phoenix... I think Random have done a wonderful job with it, and I'm very thankful indeed to the whole team!