Monday, 10 December 2018


2018 Sally Rooney - Normal People
2017 Jon McGregor - Reservoir 13
2016 Sebastian Barry - Days Without End
2015 Kate Atkinson - A God in Ruins
2014 Ali Smith - How to Be Both
2013 Kate Atkinson - Life after Life
2012 Hilary Mantel - Bring up the Bodies
2011 Andrew Miller - Pure Blue ribbon
2010 Maggie O'Farrell - The Hand That First Held Mine
2009 Colm Tóibin - Brooklyn
2008 Sebastian Barry - The Secret Scripture
2007 A.L. Kennedy - Day Blue ribbon
2006 William Boyd - Restless
2005 Ali Smith - The Accidental
2004 Andrea Levy - Small Island
2003 Mark Haddon - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
2002 Michael Frayn - Spies
2001 Patrick Neate - Twelve Bar Blues
2000 Matthew Kneale - English Passengers
1999 Rose Tremain - Music and Silence
1998 Justin Cartwright - Leading the Cheers
1997 Jim Crace - Quarantine
1996 Beryl Bainbridge - Every Man for Himself
1995 Salman Rushdie - The Moor's Last Sigh
1994 William Trevor - Felicia's Journey
1993 Joan Brady - Theory of War
1992 Alasdair Gray - Poor Things
1991 Jane Gardam - The Queen of the Tambourine
1990 Nicholas Mosley Hopeful Monsters
1989 Lindsay Clarke - The Chymical Wedding
1988 Salman Rushdie - The Satanic Verses
1987 Ian McEwan - The Child in Time
1986 Kazuo Ishiguro - An Artist of the Floating World
1985 Peter Ackroyd - Hawksmoor
1984 Christopher Hope - Kruger's Alp
1983 William Trevor - Fools of Fortune
1982 John Wain - Young Shoulders
1981 Maurice Leitch - Silver's City
1980 David Lodge How Far Can You Go
1979 Jennifer Johnston - The Old Jest
1978 Paul Theroux - Picture Palace
1977 Beryl Bainbridge - Injury Time
1976 William Trevor - The Children of Dynmouth
1975 William McIlvanney - Docherty
1974 Iris Murdoch - The Sacred and Profane Love Machine
1973 Shiva Naipaul - The Chip-Chip Gatherers
1972 Susan Hill - The Bird of Night
1971 Gerda Charles - The Destiny Waltz

Thursday, 6 December 2018

On Being A Modern Writer

Nobody will ever miss something you didn't write.

People don't wish they could find a genius they are unaware of, hanker after a writer to inspire them, or wish they could find the book that hasn't been written.

It's the harshest reality a writer must face.

Nobody cares whether you finish your magnum opus - or gives a toss whether you work on it at all.

A book is nothing until it's published - and even then, given the way things are, it's unlikely to sell more than a few copies.

Funny, I write for a living. Have done for the last 20 years. You can get a lot of eyes on things if you include the words: “money, fast and easy” in your marketing but write about anything else and your stuff pretty much disappears.

It’s never stopped me though, because I’m a writer, and writers write, no matter what happens… can you say that?

Writers must find their own reasons to write - and be self-motivated enough to continue without anything but selfish reasons to finish what they start. As Dorothea Brande said in"Becoming a Writer", writers create their own emergencies. They have to, because nobody else really gives a damn.

Recently I was rereading Stephen King's "On Writing" and I noticed something I'd previously missed.

He said he used to believe that writing was a craft and that it could be taught; a skill that, with enough training and guidance, anyone could master. Note, he said he used to think that.

Later in his career, after he'd written around twenty novels, he changed his mind. He realized that the urge to write consistently must be something you're born with.

Think about it - writing for no good reason (except a personal compulsion) is an urge that is so specific - even a little bizarre - that, without it being somehow hard-wired into a writer's DNA, most people, no matter how keen to learn, simply wouldn't bother.

It's not like it's easy, after all.

Some people say that if you find writing easy, you're probably not doing it right. I know from experience that authors who tell me they found writing their novel a breeze, signals that there’s usually a need for some serious editing!

Don't get me wrong. I do think that writing the first draft of a story or a book should be quick, painless, or at the very least, an exhilarating experience. That's usually how your best work feels. When you're 'in the zone' and being productive and inspired, you're a writer, just like any other Dan Brown, Emily Bronte, or Tolstoy.

But that's not all there is to it.

There's endless editing and polishing too. And having something important to say. And having the ability to hold an entire book in your mind - and get it all down on paper. And, of course, the toughest call: being able to arrange your life to find the time and inclination to write every day.

Not everyone thinks writing is glamorous. Even many professional writers have no great regard for the process, only the conviction that, to create something of value and importance, you have no choice but to do it.

You and only you.

Of course, 'value' and 'importance' are relative terms. That's the point. Only Tolstoy thought it was vitally important to write War and Peace. It had no value to his wife, most likely, and none of us would have missed it - or him - if he'd become an alcoholic and never got around to writing more than a few hundred words and threw them away, like many would be authors do.

The next time you're tempted to write a book, think it through.

Is it important you get it all down?

And are you willing to spend 80% of the process on making it perfect?

Because, like Mr King, I used to think that writing half a page of scribbled lines gave you the right to call yourself a writer.

But now, after I've written a couple million or so words, I'm beginning to think that being a writer is more involved.

It's somehow innate in a writer's makeup.

Perhaps practice is all it takes - consistent action and dedication to the art.

But more likely you need to discover the writer within - that guy or gal inside who was never going to be satisfied until you gave them free rein to take over your life.

But if the muse isn’t there, except as a vague yearning, maybe the best thing is to quit while you're ahead!

Because being a full-time writer is still one of the hardest ways to live. Ask any author. Even when you're successful, the motivation to write, stay focused, inspired and clear for long periods can be tough.

Sure, it's rewarding - and often fun.

That’s if readers find you – and like what you do…

But be clear on this: commitment to writing books is not for the faint hearted. And it’s certainly not for those who might be looking to make money fast and easily.

You need patience, and to be a little bit crazy.

Take one step at a time – walk slowly and surefootedly - but be sure you have good sturdy shoes before you start.

Keep Writing!

(c) Rob Parnell

The Writing Academy

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

5 Painless Self Promotion Tips

The joy of being a writer is that you can spend a lot of time at home, safe in your own little world, trying to create something meaningful and communicate through the best way possible, that is: through words on a page.

Many writers choose this career because either a) they're shy or b) they prefer their own company anyway or c) the world seems a crazy mixed up place that doesn't need much of their involvement.

I've spent time in the past with large groups of people who desperately need each other's company - and often - to even begin to function.

I've known unfortunate souls that cry unceasingly when they have no friends to call on, or live in torment until they can chat with another. It's called being gregarious, apparently.

Thankfully, like most writers, I'm not so afflicted.

I've always liked my own company - even when I craved fame in my twenties. I used to forsake the local bars in preference to my guitar or my notebook. Many creative people are like that. We love humanity as a concept but aren't so impressed with the actual process of being a part of it.

So it comes as a great shock to writers nowadays that they are expected to not only write but then miraculously become a shameless self promoter, bouncing around like some Ritalin enhanced extrovert, telling the world about themselves and their work - and supposedly enjoying it!

Writers Do It In Private

Writing is not a spectator sport. If it was, we'd have Saturday Night Writing Live or somesuch on TV. Writers have no choice but to spend time alone - which has its own rewards - but that doesn't necessarily endear ourselves to the media.

So how then are we supposed to suddenly change character and go out and actively promote ourselves?

Publishers and agents, as a matter of course, ask us, "What do you do to promote yourself?" To be a writer is apparently not enough. We have to draw attention to ourselves too - something most writers actively avoid!

A famous writer said to me recently that, despite his acute shyness, he found that media people seemed to find him fascinating. "I only wish I was," he told me. "I spend all of my time writing. How interesting can that make me?"

I know what he means. You probably do too.

To the average writer, the interesting stuff is what's on the page. But the media needs people...

What's the Answer?

My feeling has always been that if writers are to do things that draw attention to themselves, it should be on their own terms

Writer's write.

So here are some easy ways to promote yourself from the safety of your own home:

1. Use Press Releases

I use two methods. I have a list of email addresses and fax numbers of various media outlets. If I'm doing a localised press release, I'll use that. Otherwise I use PR Web, to blitz the world about something I'm doing. Either method ensures publicity without the need for me to actually speak to anyone.

2. Have a Website, Blog, MySpace, Facebook Page etc

Obvious this. A Net presence allows people to find out about you without the need to call you and ask questions. You can even thwart the media's initial intrusions by:

3. Having a Readymade Press Pack

This allows you to have all the questions anyone in the media might ask you, already answered. A press pack should also contain recent glamor shots of you and anything else you think might make an interesting angle for a news reporter. Put the link to your press pack on your website, free to download.

4. Use an Assistant

All celebrities have one. Why shouldn't you? The media doesn't have to know it's your mum or a good friend. Get someone to fend your calls and tell people you're busy, uh, writing is a good one. Either way, put distance between you and the media - they'll think you're more fascinating if you do!

5. For Interviews, use Technology

If someone wants to interview you, use the phone or Skype or a webcam. It's much easier to talk on the radio or give a lecture to a school etc if you're doing it from home. You can always use the old excuse that you're too busy to make the venue - or your chauffeur is sick, whatever - and you'll save heaps in gas too.

And if someone is absolutely desperate to interview you in person, tell them they can come to you! TV crews get paid expenses for these things and news reporters like a day out. Make them work to get you on tape and they're more likely to use your interview anyway.

Hope this helps

Keep Writing!

(c) Rob Parnell
The Easy Way to Write