I leave tomorrow morning on a seven-day trip to the north-west of France, which may determine the future of my career.
My book “The Blackhouse”, published in French as “L’île des chasseurs d’oiseaux” (The Island of the Bird Hunters), has been shortlisted for a very prestigious French literary award, the Prix Litteraire Cézam – one of ten novels selected from around Europe.
I am going to talk to just some of the 4000 readers from around France who will read and vote on the books. My first stop is a prison in Angers – yes, prisoners, too, get a voice in the decision-making process.
I will be speaking at 12 events in five days – a gruelling schedule, followed in May by a trip to south-east France, and in June to Paris, and a meeting with the other nominated writers.
The results of the vote will be returned for counting in September, and the winner announced at a glitzy event in Strasbourg in October. In addition to the overall winner, each one of the twenty-two regions participating get the chance to vote for their own favourite.
Winner takes all – along with a massive boost to book sales.
Whether, in the end, it is my book or someone else’s which wins, remains to be seen. But tomorrow I take the first step on that road to Strasbourg full of hope – that my French will be up to it!