Thursday, January 11, 2007

Costa winners

Tenderness of WolvesAmong the winners of the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Awards) announced yesterday was Stef Penney, as Nigel Reynolds reports in The Telegraph.
The most surprising story thrown up by the awards is that of 37-year-old Stef Penney, a film writer, whose debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, won this year's first novel award. A story of mystery, love and murder in a remote snow-bound settlement in northern Canada in the 1860s, it was praised by judges for its description of a deep winter landcsape.

But Penney, who lives in East London, disclosed today that she had never visited Canada. Because she had suffered from agoraphobia for 15 years, she had a fear of travelling and built up her picture of the country by reading the first-hand accounts of settlers, trappers, explorers and men of the Hudson Bay Company, in the reading room at the British Library.

She said: "I didn't like public transport and to begin with I had to go by car to the British Library. But parking was so expensive that I was forced to overcome my fear of travelling by bus."

The book was turned down by "quite a lot" of publishers, she said before it was picked up by the small house, Quercus. She said of her win today: "It's really hard to believe - it's extraordinary."

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