A little while back, I learned my lastest novel, Bastion Point: 507 Days on Takaparawha, was shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults - in the Esther Glen (Junior Fiction) Category.
I cried. Such an honour to have my peers (the judges this year who are top of their game/know heaps of stuff about writing and reading and children's reading) say: we liked what you did there. This book is good. Those tears were also for the people of Ngāti Whātua whose story of the protest I tried to recreate; whose lives were not a made-up story but were filled with frustration, and determination, and grief, and, finally, finally, triumphant (bitter sweet because the win never should have been needed).
Then I saw the list of others in my category and I got hot prickles of anxiety - these are great books (I've now read them all and loved them all) and wondered if I was a pretender; if I would be caught out being a fake.
I've had some really wonderful reviews by people saying things like, 'Tania's done a terrific job' (a special-to-my-heart response from a great man who, very sadly, died suddenly not long after this broadcast).
I've tried to ignore a review which has criticisms my te reo Māori accuracy but the accusation rankles because the reviewer is wrong and I've had the most highly regarded language experts check my usage. Words matter to me and the words 'significant errors' sting. I can assure you, there are no errors in the novel.
Overall, the shortlisting (and a recent monetary award for my Charlie Tangaroa novel) affirms what those of us in this business know: rejection comes with the territory but, the more you fling out your art, the more likely you are to snag something good.
The awards ceremony is in Wellington on the 14th of August. I am so looking forward to the event and catching up with our very supportive whānau of writers and illustrators for children.
Meanwhile, it's school holidays and, despite being struck down with a strain of flu not covered by the injection, I fully intend to have the first draft of Charlie Tangaroa and the creature from the Sea finished before school starts again.
May I commend the shortlisted titles to you for your reading pleasure. NZ punches well above its weight when it comes to quality books for children and young adults. Then, tell others about what you've read - spread the word and write reviews.