Soprano finds her voice – as a teen-lit novelist

'Outstanding' dystopian tale wins debut writer the children's prize in Costa book awards

A former opera singer believes she has finally found her voice as a writer after winning the Costa Children's Book Award for her first novel.

Moira Young, who was turned down by Glyndebourne and who has tried her hand at acting, comedy, dancing and teaching, said she "shrieked and had to sit down" after hearing that her thriller, Blood Red Road, was among the five Costa Book Awards winners.

She said: "All this time, I've been trying to find my voice. I couldn't find it in acting or singing. Now I think I have.

"All of my previous incarnations have contributed to this; I could not have been a writer without them."

The annual Costa Prize selects winners in five categories who then compete for the accolade of Book of the Year. Andrew Miller's Pure won the Novel Award, while Matthew Hollis picked up the Biography Award for Now All Roads Lead to France, about the war poet Edward Thomas. The Poetry prize was won by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, for her collection The Bees, and the prize for debut novel was awarded to Christie Watson, a former Great Ormond Street nurse, for Tiny Sunbirds Far Away.

Blood Red Road is set in the future and follows 18-year old Saba as she searches for her kidnapped twin brother. The Bookseller described it as "an outstanding dystopian debut novel... think The Hunger Games meets The Road". Her prose style has also led to the book being described as "Cormac McCarthy for teenagers".

Young said she was influenced by McCarthy and Western novels, as well as the strong movie heroines in The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. She said the story was borne out of her concern over climate change.

Announcing the winners, the Costa judges said: "It's astonishing how, in her first novel, Moira Young has so successfully bound believable characters into a heart-stopping adventure. She kept us reading, and left us hungry for more. A really special book."

Young is now working on the second book in an anticipated trilogy.

The Costa Book of the Year award will be announced at a ceremony in London on 24 January.

Costa Prize: The five winners

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the awards, whose sponsorship was taken over by the coffee chain Costa in 2006.

This year's Novel Award winner, Andrew Miller, beat the Man Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes with his sixth book, Pure, about a young engineer charged with demolishing a Paris cemetery in 1785.

Matthew Hollis won the Biography Award with Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas, beating Claire Tomalin's bestselling Charles Dickens: A Life.

Carol Ann Duffy's The Bees is her first collection of new poems since becoming Poet Laureate in 2009.

The two debut novels, Christie Watson's Tiny Sunbirds Far Away and Moira Young's Blood Red Road are the 5/1 outsiders for Book of the Year at William Hill, with Hollis's biography the favourite to pick up the £30,000 prize. The five winners were selected from 568 entries and will receive £5,000 each.

Since the Book of the Year was introduced in 1985 it has been won by a children's book only once: by Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices