When I saw that the SYP were collaborating with the Saltire Society to recruit readers for a shadow panel, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of getting to know more aboutthe process of literary awards. Being fairly new to publishing, I knew very little about awards before starting the process and I really enjoyed acting as a judge of the books and considering the criteria that they judges might be thinking about when reading. Another bonus is getting to attend the Saltire Awards Ceremony and I can’t wait for that.
The process of speed reading books is one I was very aware of from my undergrad degree, when weekly readings would take up a lot of my time. These were always academic and during university I kind of fell out of love with reading for pleasure. Since graduation, I’ve been reading more and more and the opportunity to read six new works of fiction was a great opportunity. I definitely read more quickly than I would normally read for pleasure because we were under such strict time constraints. It can be hard to read when it’s forced on you but I felt that most of the novels were engaging enough and it didn’t feel like a chore at all.
I definitely had a couple of favourite books: namely Ashland and Vine by John Burnside and The Long Drop by Denise Mina, both of which I have passed on to friends as recommended reading. I look forward to reading more from both authors, especially Mina’s crime fiction writing which I really enjoyed.
At the Shadow Panel meeting, I found the experience of chairing the discussion very rewarding and was grateful to be given that opportunity, especially when I was so nervous about it. It was great to hear the different opinions of other panel members about the books and it was interesting to understand the conflicting opinions about parts of the books. Although there were some disagreements, on the whole as a group, it felt as though we had similar opinions of the books and our winner was chosen almost unanimously.
Overall, the process was really enjoyable and I loved finding out more about the Saltire Society and their literary awards. It was amazing to meet everyone involved and I can’t wait for the Awards Night Ceremony. I also loved getting the chance to read and engage with these works of fiction and am very grateful for the opportunity to have been involved with SYP and the Saltire Society.