Text is thrilled to have Adam Cece joining the ranks as the winner of the 2017 Text Prize. At Wednesday evening’s award party, he gave this delightful and heartwarming speech:
It’s just amazing to be up here giving this acceptance speech tonight. It’s a very surreal, and somewhat terrifying, but ultimately exciting experience. Okay, I tell a lie, it’s mostly terrifying right now, but I’m sure I’ll look back on it with fond memories one day.
When I was writing this speech, I thought ‘what are the main things people want from a speech’, and the two things I came up with were they want the last two words of the speech to be ‘open bar’, and they want the speech to be short. I not sure I have much control over the first one, but I’ll at least aspire to the second one.
My book, The Extremely Weird Thing That Happened in Huggabie Falls, is about three best friends who live in the weirdest town on Earth. They don’t like their weird town, and they’ve always wished they could just live in a normal town, with normal people in it, until one day that wish starts unexpectedly coming true, and they realise that being weird is what made their town so special.
In some ways Huggabie Falls is about celebrating weirdness and the things that make us all wonderfully unique, but what I’ve always loved best about it is that it’s a silly adventure story—chock-full of my quirky, silly and sometimes warped sense of humour.
As a kid I was drawn to quirky, silly books—they were the sorts of stories I loved. If it didn’t have humour in it, then it lost me right from the start. And now, as an author, I just want to write these sorts of stories for a new generation of kids, including my own. And if these stories can have a good message in them, I think that’s a great bonus too.
So I wrote one of these stories—a quirky, silly adventure, and I loved it, but as an author you never really know if anyone else is going to love it as much as you do, or if anyone else is going to want to publish it, so it sometimes sits in your drawer for years. In the case of this book—ten years! And then when something like the Text Prize comes along, and you actually win, it’s such an amazing feeling to find out other people share your passion for your book, and I feel that passion, in droves, from Text, and I know they are going to do an amazing job publishing Huggabie Falls.
The reason I entered Huggabie Falls in the Text Prize was that I just felt like it might be a good fit with Text. I was familiar with their list, and I love a lot of their books, but it was two books in particular that inspired me to submit to Text – Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett and A Toaster on Mars by Darrell Pitt. Myke Bartlett was the Text Prize winner in 2011. Although his book and Darrell’s book are quite different to Huggabie Falls, I just thought they were both unusual and quirky books, and I had a gut feeling that maybe, just maybe, if Text loved these unusual, quirky books, then they might love my unusual, quirky book. And the rest is history.
So I want to thank Text—Michael, Jane and really everyone I've met at Text so far has been just incredible, and so nice and welcoming and super enthusiastic about Huggabie Falls. I want to thank my beautiful wife, who always rearranges our busy lives to give me time for my writing. For example, I get to go and sit in my favourite coffee shop every Thursday night and write for at least a solid two-hour block. Not only does this give me valuable, out of the house, focussed writing time, but it helps me to feel like an author, feel like J.K. Rowling, tapping or scribbling away.
Also I have to thank my children, Emma and Thomas. If you ever want to write funny children’s books, with lots of random humour, then all you have to do is have two children, as they are constant fountains of hilarious and random humour.
I’d also like to thank my agent Dyan Blacklock, who is never afraid to tell it like it is, which we all need sometimes. My sometimes weird and quirky family. My mum and my dad: Mum for reading so much of my awful developing writing over the years, but always saying it was Shakespeare, and my dad too—mostly for all his bad dad jokes. I also want to thank my lecturers, in the Advanced Diploma of Arts—Professional Writing, that I completed years ago, for their advice and guidance and belief in me as an author. My mentor Fiona McIntosh too, for her advice and encouragement, and tough love sometimes. My author and writer friends in writing organisations like SCBWI (the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the South Australian children’s writers organisation eKIDnas, and the SA Writers Centre. These organisations are incredible and full of amazing dedicated and supportive people. And the more I think about it, the thank yous could go on forever, because I’ve been writing for thirty years, and so many people have inspired me and encouraged me and informed me over the years.
But importantly, as I’ve already said, a big thank you to Text for seeing something special in my book, and giving me this honour.
And lastly, I want to do a shout out to my fellow shortlistees – Sharon, Brendan and Carly. I haven’t read any of your books yet, but I want to read all of them, because they all sound fantastic. I’m so happy that we're in a unique and unprecedented situation tonight, where we have all got publishing deals as a result of our shortlistings in the Text Prize. So it’s a true celebration for all of us, and I hope this is the start of a long and fantastic publishing journey for me with Text, and I hope it is for you too, and I hope to see your careers develop and soar as fellow Text authors.
The Extremely Weird Thing That Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece will be published in 2018. For more information about the Text Prize, click here.