Friday, May 07, 2010

Boston Authors Club Award Ceremony

So I'm driving down the Mass Pike, heading back from Boston, and my cell phone rings.

BROTHER: Hey.

ME: I'm so sorry that I didn't get to see you! Really short trip.

BROTHER: Where are you?

ME: Driving on the Mass Pike.

BROTHER: Where on the Mass Pike?

ME: Near the Framingham rest stop. Where are you?

BROTHER: On the Mass Pike. Are you in between some 18-wheelers?

ME: Um, yes. Closest one is called Iron Mountain.

BROTHER: I'm five cars behind you.


So we both turn off at the rest stop and have a mini family reunion right there in the parking lot. It was so lucky as to be nearly freaky.

Also by crazy coincidence, earlier that day, while walking around Newbery Street, I heard someone call my name, turned, and saw my cousin, whom I hadn't seen in years.

Either Massachusetts is suddenly a LOT smaller than it used to be, or I was having a very lucky day.

I'm voting the latter because the reason I was in Massachusetts at all that day was to receive this:


ICE was named a 2010 Finalist for the Boston Authors Club Award for Young Readers!!! And now I have this lovely certificate to prove it!

The ceremony was held in the Boston Public Library, which was cool because BPL is one of my favorite libraries. When I lived in Somerville, I used to fill up giant bags of books and nearly break my back hauling them home on the T. Somehow it never occurred to me while I was in the library that I'd have to lug the books home...

It was a really lovely ceremony. The members of the judging committee took turns introducing each book and explaining why they had chosen it, and then several of us talked about why/how we'd written our books. The honored books covered quite a wide range (see list below or click here) -- nonfiction, poetry, and a short story collection, in addition to novels spanning various genres -- and it was fascinating to hear how the different books came to be. I love hearing about other writers' processes.

In case you're curious, here is approximately what I said:

Thank you so much! This really, really means a lot to me.

ICE is a novel that's very close to my heart. I wrote it as a love letter to my husband. It's about true love. Not the fairy-tale love-at-first-sight kind of love where the girl dances with the prince and he doesn't bother to find out anything about her other than her shoe size... but it's about real love, the kind of love where you face the world united as a team, where you'd go beyond the ends of the earth for your love.

One of the reasons that I write fantasy is that it allows you to explore themes like true love in an extreme sort of way. You can explore what sort of person, what sort of relationship would lead a person to literally go east of the sun and west of the moon, beyond the known world.

Another reason that I write fantasy is pure wish fulfillment. I want to ride a talking polar bear! Through writing, I can experience things that aren't actually possible. Growing up, I was the kid who always wanted something magical to happen. I was always searching for dragon's eggs in the backyard or waiting for the portrait in the hall to speak. Every year for much, much too long, I would put on my wish list for Santa: magic wand. (Though I have to say, I still think this was more practical than my brother, who at age six, would put Ferrari on the theory that he could just save it until he was sixteen.)

The third reason that I write fantasy is because I believe that fantasy literature is a very important kind of literature. It directly fulfills what I see as one of the primary purposes of books, which is: escape. To take you someplace else, someplace you will never go, could never go. To let you live inside the skin of someone who is utterly unlike you.

I think that being a writer is the closest you can get in this world to being a wizard. You... we... try to cast spells. You try to create this kind of telepathy where you put your dream into the head of someone you have never met and will never meet: you try to create a shared dream. You shape the reader's imagination. You take them on a journey.

ICE took me on a journey to the Arctic. I've never actually been to the Arctic. I'm a lousy traveler. I always overpack. I don't like to be too hot or too cold. I hate bugs. But I've always thought of the Arctic as a magical, dangerous, beautiful place, and by writing this book, I got to go there.

I did a TON of research for this book. I read nature guides, explorer memoirs, polar bear books, everything I could get my hands on. I think I can safely say that I am the only person I know who owns a North Slope Barrow dialect Inupiaq to English dictionary. At one point, I could tell you what kind of lichen were on the rocks that Cassie would walk past as she trekked across the Arctic. I could tell you where the sun would be on a particular day at a particular time at a particular latitude. It varies that far north, you know. In the middle of summer, at the top of the world, the sun just circles above the horizon all day and all night.

I learned details like if you cry in the Arctic, your eyelashes will freeze and break off, and I got to explore what that would do to a person's character, learning to hold that emotion in. And things like if you walk across the ice of the Arctic, you're walking over frozen sea, not land, and any minute, the ice could shift and drop you into water that could kill you in fifteen minutes -- how that would affect a person.

One of my favorite things about being a writer is that it is the ultimate in armchair traveling. I got to travel vicariously with Cassie.

I'd like to thank you for traveling with me. Thank you for liking ICE. And thank you for this wonderful honor!

And after we all spoke, we ate sandwiches. :) All in all, it was a lovely, lucky day.

If you're a member of the Boston Authors Club and you're reading this, thank you so much for giving me such a nice memory along with such a wonderful honor! And if you're my father and you're reading this (hi, Dad!), thank you so much for coming! It really meant a lot to have you there. Lastly, if you're one of the other authors who was honored on Thursday, congratulations!!!

THE BOSTON AUTHORS CLUB BOOK AWARDS

YOUNG READERS BOOK AWARDS

First Prize:
Jacqueline Davies for LOST

Finalists:
Pat Lowery Collins for HIDDEN VOICES
Sarah Beth Durst for ICE
Francisco X. Stork for MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD

Highly Recommended Titles:
Pam Bachorz for CANDOR
Liza Ketchum for NEWSGIRL
Glenna Lang & Marjory Wunsch for GENIUS OF COMMON SENSE
Grace Lin for WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON

TRADE BOOK AWARDS

Julia Ward Howe Prize:
Nancy Rappaport for IN HER WAKE

Finalists:
Jay Mathews for WORK HARD; BE NICE
Ann Snodgrass for FIELDS ACROSS WHICH NO BIRDS FLY
Tracy Winn for MRS. SOMEBODY SOMEBODY

Highly Recommended Titles:
Janice Y. K. Lee for THE PIANO TEACHER
Ben Mezrich for ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES
Matthew Pearl for THE LAST DICKENS
Francine Prose for ANNE FRANK
John J. Ronan for MARROWBONE LANE

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4 Comments:

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW.

Sounds like a wounderful day Sarah. I hope i hear from you soon, and, I've nearly finished my book!! I'm like, TWO pages (or less) away!! I'm SOOO excited and dreading the next part of revising. But, i know you'll be helping me (mentaly) all the way. =D

Well done, for that day. ICE and you, deseve it.

Laura xx (Pheebs20 on Twitter)

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Peni R. Griffin said...

What a good day!

I have always found that books weigh less in the library when they're jumping into your backpack than they do lugging them home; even though it is easier in the backpack than in your arms. And then you get to haul them back to the library.

One solution to that is to bring them back in stages; but then you get out even more books and the books you've bought and are waiting to read start glaring at you accusingly because you never get to them.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

Congratulations! This gives us wannabe authors something to aspire to!

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger SavyLeartist said...

Congrads Sarah!!!! You compeltely deserve it, that book is amazingly awesome, and other fantastical words.

 

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