A RISING teen fiction author from Stoubridge has been long-listed for a prestigious literary prize.
David Massey, author of Torn, is in the running for the Branford Boase Book Award - which is given annually to the debut novelist of an outstanding book for children aged seven and upwards.
The father-of-three, from Withymoor, who was snapped up by the man who discovered JK Rowling, faces tough competition from 24 other authors including BBC radio presenter Simon Mayo for his book Itch, and Dave Shelton - who wrote A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, which was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award.
He said: “It’s amazing - it’s quite a high profile award and it’s a prize for writers and their editors - so Imogen Cooper, my editor, is also in the running for the prize as well.”
The award will be decided by a panel of top judges including last year’s Branford Boase Book Award winner Annabel Pitcher (author of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) and Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of The Guardian.
The shortlist will be published on May 1 and the winner will be announced on July 11 at a ceremony in London.
Torn, a tale of love and war in Afghanistan - told from the perspective of a 19-year-old British army medic, has also made the Catalyst Book Awards longlist and been shortlisted for the Leeds Book Awards and the Coventry Inspiration Awards.
David, who has enjoyed a whirlwind few months of signings since the book was released last August, said: “It’s been hectic. I’ve been doing a lot of school events all over the country and I’ll be doing a few in London in February.
“It’s been quite interesting and I’ve been getting a really good response from secondary schools.
“They are buying it in and kids are reading it as part of their readings lists - and Winchester University is using it as part of its creative writing degree course.”
David was about to ditch his dreams of literary stardom shortly before he was signed up by publishing legend Barry Cunningham who gave Harry Potter author JK Rowling her big break.
However - Mr Cunningham, who founder of Chicken House Publishing, spotted his potential after reading the full manuscript for Torn - a fast-paced tale about teen soldier Elinor Nielson’s quest for truth after a young Afghan girl vanishes in a hail of bullets.
David, who worked in radio before starting an emergency supplies business with wife Debi, was inspired to write the book after heading up an aid expediton during the revolution in Romania where he witnessed the devastating effects of conflict on young people.