Writer inspired by success

GOOD START: Nelson author Mark Brady with his three writing awards.
GOOD START: Nelson author Mark Brady with his three writing awards.

Nelson father Mark Brady launched his career as a writer with a hiss and a roar when three of his unpublished manuscripts were recognised at the Storylines awards night.

Two of his picture book stories, Sabre-toothed Syd and The Paper Eating Monster, were shortlisted for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award, while his novel for children The Secret Ingredient of Pizza made the shortlist for the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

Asked what his own secret ingredient was, Brady said he had read many, many books to his three children as they were growing up. His favourites as a boy had been Beatrix Potter and Lewis Carroll, but he now admired modern classics like Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

"I wanted to share those with my children, and now I just want to write them."

Now working two part-time jobs as a yoga instructor and kitchen assistant at Broccoli Row vegetarian restaurant, Brady said he started The Secret Ingredient of Pizza two years ago when he and his youngest daughter Leah, now 14, were making a lot of pizza together. He also studies design and drawing part-time at NMIT, with the intention of one day illustrating his own picture books.

Brady said his main aim in writing was to promote "positive dad [role] models". He said children's books were difficult to craft to perfection because they were "distilled".

"Even if you write a draft in half an hour, it might take months to go over it and correct it."

He said he had taken a chance in submitting his manuscripts to Storylines' awards, and said he had felt "overwhelmed" with attention from publishers at the ceremony last weekend. He was confident the books would now be published.

"It feels real now, and it didn't before. I am really inspired to carry on."

The winner of this year's Joy Cowley Award was Emma Vere-Jones for her manuscript entitled Stan and the Van. Suzanne Main won the Tom Fitzgibbon Award with her manuscript titled How I Alienated my Grandma.

Nelson publisher Craig Potton Publishing had two of its 2013 children's books recognised in Storylines' Notable Books Award list for this year. These were Teddy Bear's Promise by Diana Noonan, illustrated by Robyn Belton, and the non-fiction work In the Garden: Explore & Discover the New Zealand Backyard by Gillian Candler, illustrated by Ned Barraud.