The Carnegie Medal and Me

In 1987, I published, with Faber, The Ghost Drum.


    Without mentioning it to me, Faber submitted the book to the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) who, every year, award the prestigious Carnegie Medal to a book written for younger readers that is 'of outstanding literary quality.'

        Read the criteria for the Carnegie Award here.


    The first I knew of it was when someone from CILIP (who were the Young Librarians' Group then) 'phoned to tell me that I was on the short list. Reader, I remained calm. I asked how many authors were on the short list, and who were they? It was one of the longest short lists they'd ever had, I was told, and it contained some impressive names.


     So I thanked them for telling me, and forgot all about it. What was the point of getting all excited about something you weren't going to win?

 Months passed.

     Then, one afternoon, I was called to the phone. I assumed it was a friend, and strolled down the hall, chewing on a fishfinger.

A cheerful voice on the other end of the line said, "I have the wonderful job of telling you that you've won the Carnegie!"

     It had been a close contest, I was told, and my book had been the outsider all along. But at the final meeting, people were saying that, of all the books on the shortlist, it was mine that had stayed with them. Needless to say, I was dead-chuffed.But after my mother was told, pulling her down from the ceiling became a bit of a chore.


     Below, you can see the back of my Carnegie.

The day after I won, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find an enormous bouquet of flowers waiting on the step.

          A closer look showed there was a man holding them. All I could see of him was a pair of jeans beneath all the ribbons, cellophane, leaves and blooms. The flowers were from my publishers, who were almost as thrilled as my mother.


    I've won several other awards - The Guardian Prize, for instance, for The Sterkarm Handshake - but this is the biggest.



The Ghost Drum was followed by two other books, Ghost Song and Ghost Dance.

    They have won many fans, Phillip Pullman among them. There have been several animation companies interested in the book, but film-deals seldom work out. However, the book is under film option as I write.



     To read the first chapter of 'Ghost Drum', click here.