Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

23rd November 2012

THE BOOKER OF THE NORTH

This was how Radio Cumbria described the Portico Prize for Literature awards yesterday morning when I did a breakfast interview about being on the shortlist with The Man who couldn't stop Drawing.

This was followed by a four hour drive through some of the worst conditions ever - high winds and sleeting rain and flooded roads with traffic building up  into mega-jams- very dangerous. My car battery light on the dashboard kept lighting up and the LCD display flashed FLOOD, FLOOD, FLOOD which  made me shout back at it 'Shut up! I know that!'

The Prize giving banquet was in The Great Hall in Manchester last night and there was a marvellous sense of occasion despite the ongoing torrential downpours.The Northern literati and gliterati were there in force. At the champagne reception before dinner I was engaged in a long literary conversation with a young Irish lawyer who admitted to be creative (erm lawyer?). After 2 glasses of champagne and a discussion about our favourite books, he asked whether the President of Ireland had arrived. It was at this point I realised he was at the wrong reception. He rushed off to the Town Hall. Bless.

Anyway to get to the point if you're still with me and wondering - no my book didn't win. The £10k fiction prize went to Cumbrian writer Sarah Hall for her collection of short stories so it stayed in the 'family' as it were against formidable competition; - A S Byatt, Joan Bakewell, Val Macdermid. Sarah is a very talented young writer winning accolades for the quality of her work. It seems as though the short story genre is coming back into favour having been ignored for many years. This is good news.

For the £10k non fiction (my bag) my money was on Simon Armitage's Walking Home orJeanette Winterson's Why be happy when you could be normal as my second bet. But  it was won by Jean Sprackland's Strands which was a surprise to everyone most of all to the author.

So that's over for another 2 years so I'd better get on and get the next one published I guess. It was good to be on the shortlist and I had a very good evening, made new friends and sold a lot of books.Writing is a solitary occupation so it's good to get out of The Egg sometime into the real world.

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