Writer who was rejected 100 times is finally rewarded

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A web designer and aspiring children's author, whose debut novel was turned down by 100 literary agents and publishers prior to being picked up by Andersen Press, was yesterday rewarded for his persistence when he was named winner of the Costa Children's Book Award.

Jason Wallace, 41, from London, beat the best-selling writer Jonathan Stroud to the prize for Out of Shadows, an inventive tale about Robert Mugabe's newly independent Zimbabwe in the 1980s. The power struggle between white and black Zimbabweans of that era is shown through the eyes of a schoolboy.

"I think I may have had a few low points when trying to get the book noticed, but in truth I don't think I would ever have given in," he told The Independent yesterday. He was born in Cheltenham but found himself in Africa at the age of 12 after his mother remarried and emigrated to Zimbabwe. The writer said his experience of growing up in the aftermath of the war of independence formed the foundation of his book.

He said: "This idea came that would allow me to write about something that means so much to me – from the sadness at seeing what Mugabe was doing to a country I loved, to simply reliving my teenage years as I wrote."

Among the Costa Prize's other category winners was Maggie O'Farrell who was recognised for her fifth novel, The Hand That First Held Mine. The novelist, a former journalist with The Independent on Sunday, dramatises the disorientating experiences of mothers in the first few weeks after childbirth. "It is a shock to the system when there's no sleep and you're physically debilitated," she said. "It's like being in a dream state."

Edmund de Waal, 46, the celebrated ceramicist whose memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes, won the Costa Biography Award, said he was "punch drunk" on hearing the news. The book traces his family tree.

Jo Shapcott, meanwhile, won the poetry category award for Of Mutability, her first new work in over a decade, which was in part influenced by her experience of breast cancer. Kishwar Desai claimed the first novel award for Witness the Night.

An overall winner across the five categories will be announced on 25 January.

Costa Novel Award

The Hand That First Held Mine, by Maggie O'Farrell

A London couple recover from a traumatic birth unravelling the secrets and repressed memories which intertwine their lives with strangers' from the 1950s.

Costa First Novel Award

Witness the Night, by Kishwar Desai

When an unconventional social worker in India is drawn into the case of a mute young girl accused of murder, she discovers the terrible fate of unwanted female children.

Costa Biography Award

The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal

This rich memoir chronicles not just the highly acclaimed potter's own story, but also that of his remarkable family, through the passing-down of a collection of intricate Japanese carvings.

Costa Poetry Award

Of Mutability, by Jo Shapcott

Influenced by the poet's experience of breast cancer, this collection of poems celebrates life and hope by exploring mortality and the nature of change with unflinching candour.

Costa Children's Book Award

Out of Shadows, by Jason Wallace

Inspired by the author's experience in Zimbabwe, this novel brings the simmering rage of the early Mugabe regime to the page for young adults.

Rebecca Gonsalves

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
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.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam