A brief note to let you know that I have become a judge. Not a High Court judge; the qualification process was a bit too long-winded and I’m not sure where you go about getting a wig. But the next best type of judge: the judge of a book prize.
The prize is the Costa Book Award, once known as the Whitbread, and one of the better-known literary ‘competitions’ out there. I will be helping to crown the Best First Novel, along with Janet Ellis (from Blue Peter, yes) and Alison Flood (from the Observer; both of them are also found in everyday life). To do this, I have to pick a very short shortlist from an enormous barrel of books which I’ll be endeavouring to read over the summer.
I think you’ll agree that for someone like me who has a history of taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed by workload, this sort of thing is absolutely ideal.
But it was too great an honour to turn down. I look forward to turning my furious judgement upon all words offered up to me. My particular wrath will be saved for any books which are similar to the sort of thing I’d write, but better. Those are going DOWN. I mean, those will be judged with the same impartiality I shall also bring to bear upon other parts of the process.
The book I wrote recently – The Knot – is out in the last week of August, I may as well take the opportunity to remind you. Someone will, in turn, be judging that, and someone judging them, and so on up to God or whoever you believe is the ultimate winner of these things.