The Kindle Storyteller Award was established in 2017 to celebrate great storytelling across a wide range of genres, including non-fiction as well as fiction. From its inception ALLi Director Orna Ross has been on the judging panel. She was thrilled when Hannah Lynn‘s novel The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, was declared the winner of the 2018 contest, calling it “compelling and imaginative” in her own post about the judging process that you can read on her author blog here. We are delighted that Hannah is joining us on the blog today to tell us about her writing life and about her perspective on winning this prestigious award.
Debbie Young: Tell us a little about how you came to start writing novels.
Hannah Lynn: I had always wanted to write novels, and often wrote short children's stories, but besides those never managed to get anywhere beyond a few chapters.
As I approached my late twenties I was finding more and more people saying how they had always planned to write a novel or thought about writing a novel. It was around the same time as I had the idea for Amendments. That was when I realized I didn't want to be a person who thought about doing things. I wanted to be a person who did things.
Debbie: Why did you decide to self-publish and what have you thought of the self-publishing experience?
Hannah: At the time I was living in Asia and the thought of sending my work off to agents in different countries just didn't make sense to me. Now, I love the freedom I get to move across genres and write the stories that matter to me.
Debbie: What was it about your entry that made you think it was a good fit for the award?
Hannah: I think the thought of some kind of afterlife is intriguing and comforting for a lot of people. The book is humorous, but it is tender and poignant too.
Debbie: What was the process for entering?
Hannah: I simply had to list one of my keywords for the book on Amazon KDP as StorytellerUK2018. It was that simple.
Debbie: Did you have long to wait for the result?
Hannah: I didn't get the result until the night, when Lorraine Kelly read my name out! It was about four weeks after I'd been told I was on a finalist I think.
Debbie: How did you find out that you'd won – and were you surprised at your success or quietly confident?
Hannah: It was a strange period the week before, because my friends were telling me confidently that I was going to win, so I did start to hope, but the competition was so great, with substantially more established authors than myself.
I knew I had written the best novel I could write, but whether that was enough, I didn't know.
Debbie: Tell us about the award ceremony – did you feel like you'd just won an Oscar? Were there red carpet moments? And what exactly was the prize, apart from the incredible honour and prestige?
Hannah: It was fantastic. I had left my husband at home with my daughter, as we didn't think there was any chance I would win – so I feel a bit bad about that now – and had gone dress shopping two hours before. To be honest, I was in a bit of a daze, just trying to soak it all in.
I remember being amazed that so many people had read the book and actually knew who I was.
One of the loveliest things was meeting the other finalists. They are such wonderful people, with whom I'm still in contact.
Along with the prize money, one of the most beneficial parts of the prize has been the contacts made. I never realised before how massive and how supportive the community is out there. To have these wonderful authors at the end of an email when I desperately need a bit of advice is priceless.
Debbie: What impact has winning the award had on (a) your writing (b) your marketing plans (c) your public profile/discoverability?
Hannah: Currently, I am still working full time as a physics teacher. I wish that I had more time to write, but it's just not possible right now. This also means it's rather difficult to find time for all the other things, like marketing, too. Fortunately I have a very supportive husband who helps me as much as possible in that department.
The competition has taught me to trust myself, however. And that just because a story seems a bit different, that doesn't mean it's not worth writing.
Debbie: Do you have any advice to share with other authors who might be thinking of entering the award in future?
Hannah: Write the best book you can. Ask people for honest feedback and don't worry about what other people are doing or writing. If you write from the heart, it will come across.
Debbie: You write across different genres – what is your current work-in-progress, and what books do you have planned for the foreseeable future?
Hannah: My plan is to keep writing as much as possible. I'm still writing my Peas and Carrots series, but I have a few other plans in the pipelines too.
To find out more about Hannah Lynn, her books and her writing life, visit her author website: www.hannahlynnauthor.com.Read our exclusive interview with @HMLynnAuthor, winner of the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award, for top writing tips and inspiration Click To Tweet