They came for dinner

I started leaning on them a week ago. At various points most of them could either come or not come and it kept changing until the last minute, and I moved venue two days before, but finally they were here.

Dinner table

On Thursday evening it was time for my annual tradition (three times is tradition, yes?) of asking the shortlisted authors coming to the Salford Children’s Book Award to meet for dinner on the night before the ceremony. Not all of them managed to come up with a convincing enough excuse for not joining me – and Daughter – so three authors and one very cool aunt actually made it to Carluccio’s at Piccadilly.

Gill Lewis

Sally Nicholls

Gill Lewis arrived nice and early, and we decided to string out the dining experience by having starters we strictly speaking didn’t need. Olives, crispy pasta. That sort of thing. Sally Nicholls, accompanied by her Cool Aunt, got there at the end of our main course, and Cliff McNish wasn’t too far behind.

This year the award is a Top Ten kind of arrangement, so the authors had all won their year, and this morning they have to fight it out between them (including Michael Morpurgo who even has to fight himself), to see who is the overall winner of the last ten years. (Daughter pointed out it was like The Hunger Games, except they’d had dinner, and hopefully they will all be alive at the end.)

We talked about being a vet, about big animals and small animals and disobedient dog sled dogs. There was some general writing world gossip, and just as it got really exciting I was asked to sign the official secrets act, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything. Deadlines. Editors. Killing the wrong character. Who’s been buried in the garden. Mmmphh… (OK, I will be quiet now.)

Cliff McNish

Cliff had questions on everything, including why I arranged the dinner. (Stupid question. I want to hang out with the cool kids. Obviously.) Sally waved her minestrone about and talked, making the table shake. Cool Aunt makes puppets (films and television), and she has a brand new grandchild, as well as the sense to bring photos of the baby. Adorable!

At some point the latecomers caught up with the menu, and Cool Aunt was seen finishing the large and rather green olives which were still around. Just before we were chucked out, we managed to work out how much money we needed to find, before going in search of taxis to Salford Quays and last trains for Cool Aunt and Daughter and me.

It was lucky no one was hoping for an early night, except MC Alan Gibbons who had flown in from Hong Kong in the small hours, and who came to the belated conclusion he actually needed some sleep. Which is why he didn’t join us.

The other hopefuls this morning are Paul Adam, Georgia Byng, Angie Sage and the sisters of Siobhan Dowd. Robert Muchamore and Michael Morpurgo won’t be there, but might still win. I’ll update this when I know.

(Michael Morpurgo won with Shadow.)

6 responses to “They came for dinner

  1. You live a good life, you do.
    I happened to see Michael Morpurgo on the screen last weekend. They have this program where they broadcast National Theatre shows–your national theatre, not mine–and they were showing Warhorse. I don’t know if you could say I enjoyed it, because there was a lot of cruelty to the horses (although fortunately they were puppets), but I thought it was an excellent production. He seemed somewhat bemused by its massive success.

    • I know, Seana. And they are so kind to let me.

      Yes, we have the NT films as well, but I haven’t managed to see one yet. Daughter saw War Horse a few weeks ago.

  2. It was such a great night that I couldn’t even find the photographer’s camera as I blogged, which is why I was late adding pictures.

    If you think they look as if they are not having a very nice time, it’s because they had such a good time they just didn’t stop waving and moving, and almost all the photos came out as a happy blur. Or food was going into mouths, and that’s never a good look.

    Or, they might not have enjoyed it…

  3. How lovely! Although Cliff looks slightly troubled … was it something you said?

  4. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. (He was upset that Sally had killed someone he liked. Or he thought Michael Morpurgo would beat him to the award.)

  5. Pingback: Close Your Pretty Eyes | Bookwitch

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