Monday, January 26, 2009

(Insert amazed and delighted swearing here)

The great thing about having a dead day in a hotel after a long junket, and this Monday was one of those, is you have nothing to get up for. So I had a very long late lazy bath in the small hours of the morning, and then stayed up talking to a friend on the phone, and then I read...

I drifted off to sleep with a Jack Benny show playing on the iPod around 3:30 am. I set the alarm for 11.00 am because I didn't have anything to get up early for, and planned to wake a little before the alarm, and start writing. I closed my eyes...

And then the phone was ringing. I think it may have been ringing for some time. In fact, I thought as I surfaced, it had already rung and then stopped ringing once, which meant someone was calling to tell me something. Probably the hotel was burning down. I picked up the phone. It was my assistant, Lorraine, sleeping over at my place with a convalescent dog.

"Merrilee called, and she thinks someone is trying to get hold of you," she told me. I told her what time it was (viz. five thirty in the bloody morning here is she out of her mind some of us are trying to sleep here you know.) She said she knew what time it was in LA, and that Merrilee, who is my literary agent, sounded really definite that this was important.

I got out of bed. Checked voicemail. No, no-one was trying to get hold of me. I called home, to tell Lorraine that it was all nonsense -- "It's okay," she said. "They called here. They're on the other line. I'm giving them your cellphone number."

I was not yet sure what was going on or who was trying to do what. It was 5:45 in the morning. No-one had died, though, I was fairly certain of that. My cell-phone rang.

"Hello. This is Rose Trevino. I'm chair of the ALA Newbery Committee..." Oh. Newbery. Right. Cool. I may be an honors book or something. That would be nice, "and I have the voting members of the Newbery Committee here, and we want to tell you that your book..."

"THE GRAVEYARD BOOK," said fourteen loud voices, and I thought, I may be still  asleep right now, but they probably don't do this, probably don't call people and sound so amazingly excited, for Honors books....

"...just won..."

"THE NEWBERY MEDAL" they chorused. They sounded really happy. I checked the hotel room because it seemed very likely that I was still fast asleep. It all looked reassuringly solid.

You are on a speakerphone with at least 14 teachers and librarians and suchlike great, wise and
good people, I thought. Do not start swearing like you did when you got the Hugo. This was a wise thing to think because otherwise huge, mighty and fourletter swears were gathering. I mean, that's what they're for. I think I said, You mean it's Monday?

"You can tell your agent and your publisher, but no-one else," said Rose. "And it will be announced in about an hour."

And I fumfed and mumbled and said something of a thankyouthankyouthankyouokaythiswasworthbeingwokenupfor nature.

Then I phoned my agent and my publisher, both of whom seemed to have intuited my news already through secret methods, but it may have just been that I was calling them on this particular Monday morning (and, in retrospect, someone must have phoned someone to get my home phone number). (Merrilee-my-agent: "You didn't start swearing, did you?" Me: "No." Her: "Oh good.")

I called Maddy, spoke to her, and she was beyond delighted, and I told her to try not to tell anybody about it, and told her lovely mum, who was thrilled for me.

Then I got a phone call from Elyse, Harperchildren publicist, wanting to know if I could fly in from LA to New York to be on the Today Show tomorrow morning. I said sure. I mean, what else was I going to say?

So I'm checking out of this hotel two days early, and I'm typing this with the ALA webcast playing in the background. They haven't got to the Newbury award yet. I'm not sure that they're actually going to say The Graveyard Book when they get to the Newberies bit. I might have imagined all of this, or they may have to do a sudden recount or something. But I think it probably happened. I mean, it's now 7:20 am and I'm drinking tea and blinking happily at the world. Spoke to Holly. Spoke to Mike. 

Okay. They just said it. I can post this.

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