By November 2010 I'd resigned myself to the gentle slide back to anonymity. I'd received my pile of media clippings from Random House and I was relatively happy with how things had gone. Some good reviews, some slightly better than good, no stinkers. I didn't expect things to take off again in 2011, but since 31 December I've been named a "hot writer", had a glowing review in the NZ Herald and now A Man Melting has been short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers Prize South East Asia and Pacific First Book Award. Long title, eh? It basicially means I'm one of six first-time authors from Commonwealth nations in SE Asia (eg Malaysia) and the Pacific (eg NZ and Australia) with a chance of winning the best first book in our region. Winners of the four Commonwealth regions (the others are Europe and South Asia, Candada and Caribbean, and Africa) duke it out for title of best first book in the Commonwealth. So it's pretty much the Commonwealth Games of literature (ie Americans have no idea it exists; NZers win a lot of silvers…). There's also an award for non-first books, but no one cares about them has-beens, right?
Anyway, it's pretty cool to be short-listed. Not many Kiwis ever win their region, so moving to the next stage is a big ask. Then there's the fact the press release from the Commonwealth Writers Prize features a comment by the chair of this region's judges, Dr Paul Sharrad, had this to say about the first book short-list:
"The first entries are notable for their fresh ideas. They include a comic treatment of the Rapture in the US, a story of Aborigines, a detective thriller involving an historical right-wing militia culminating in the opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge, an obsessive cartographer and her twin sister living down trauma from the collapse of Yugoslavia, and the laconic lives of casual grape pickers in rural Australia."Yup, that's right: no mention of anything from A Man Melting. Oh well.
I should really interview more writers…
This Fluid Thrill: where promises are made...