- Lots of preparation of the pupils by teachers and librarians in participating schools. This means a good number of book sales before the event and lots of useful publicity locally. But it's also the best way to do things and the fact that authors and publishers do nothing to "push" their books makes it all so much fairer.
- Lovely treatment of the authors with a real care for our comfort and welfare. We are made to feel like stars for the day!
- The feeling that we were all winners for being on the shortlist, with all of us doing talks and having presentations made about our books during the lead-up to the announcement.
- A fun and festive air without it being manic and shouty.
- Our travel expenses paid. Sometimes, there's accommodation and a dinner, too, though the timing of these ones meant that that wasn't needed.
- Book sales at the event.
I did, however, have a ball at the North East Book Award in the Centre for Life in Newcastle. (Also wearing my red boots...) I was thrilled to be the runner-up, Highly Commended, after Keren David's wonderful When I Was Joe. And it was lovely to meet the other authors. Keren and Paul Dowswell and I are all on the Angus award, too, so we'll see each other again soon. It was lovely to see Anne Cassidy again and to meet Cliff McNish, who has the same agent as I do.
My favourite thing was the groups of readers who came up to me before the event - actually, mobbed was the word - and said the most fab things about Wasted. (Some of their comments are on the NETBA blog here.) Oh, and getting the whole audience, including adults and authors, playing Jack's Game, was a lot of fun!
My thanks to the librarians who made all this possible at both events - Yvonne Manning at Falkirk and Eileen Armstrong in Cramlington and both their teams. Librarians are absolutely my heroes.