James Herbert Award for Horror Writing launched

Pan Macmillan and the estate of James Herbert have launched The James Herbert Award for Horror Writing in memory of the bestselling author who died in March last year.

The annual award will recognize the best horror writer with a specially-designed commemorative statuette and a cheque for £2,000.

The chilling stories must be written in English, and published in the UK between the 1 January 2014 and the 31 December 2014. Self-published books will not be accepted.

Entry forms can be filled out on the Pan Macmillan website, and 7 hard copies (early proofs, bound proofs or finished copies) should be sent to the following address: The James Herbert Award, Comms. Department, Pan Macmillan, 20 New Wharf Road, N1 9RR.

Herbert’s 23 novels have been published in 34 languages including Russian and Chinese, and have sold over 54 million copies worldwide. He was made the Grand Master of Horror by the World Horror Convention, and awarded an OBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours List.

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Damien Hirst autobiography to be published in 2015

Viking Penguin is to publish Damien Hirst’s autobiography, co-written by James Fox, in Autumn 2015.

The book will delve into Hirst’s criminal gang past of housebreaking and stealing before moving onto his breakthrough group exhibition Freeze.

Fox said he admires “The fearlessness of Damien, his ability to take on authority, to never say anything can’t be done, to break all the rules. That very much comes from that background.”

Hirst commented: “I’m really pleased to be working with Penguin on my autobiography, they are a very cool and creative publisher with a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. They care about all their readers from top to bottom and are not afraid of pushing the boundaries.”

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Alex Bellos finds out world’s favourite number

The author of Alex Through the Looking-Glass Alex Bellos reveals the world’s favourite number is seven.

The Alex’s Adventures in Numberland writer and Guardian maths blogger launched a global online poll to discover the most popular number, and 30,000 people submitted their responses.

Members of the public chose seven because it has an “elegance of line (as opposed to the bulbous number 8, for example!)”, and “Seven just feels magical!”

The runners-up are three (“It’s curly, but not pretentious curly”), and eight (“I think it has something to do with the shape; complete and joined-up and giving an impression of symmetry and strength”).

Bellos was interested in conducting the poll as “I am fascinated by the emotional responses many of us have to numbers. The survey asked those taking part to nominate their favourite number and explain why they feel that way.”

Those interested in numbers might also be interested to know that authors Hugh Brazier and Jan McCann would like readers to suggest number-related topics for their title The Book of 365. More details can be found here.

Alex Through the Looking Glass: How Life Reflect Numbers and Numbers Reflects Life by Alex Bellos will be released on 10 April 2014 as a £18.99 hardback.

Top ten favourite numbers

1. 7
2. 3
3. 8
4. 4
5. 5
6. 13
7. 9
8. 6
9. 2
10. 11

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Hannah Kent and Donna Tartt on Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist

Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch have been shortlisted for the £30,000 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Chair judge, Helen Fraser, commented, “We are very excited by the books we have chosen for the shortlist. Each one is original and extraordinary in its own way – each offers something different and exciting and illuminating.”

“We feel you could give any one of these books to a friend with the absolute confidence that they would be gripped and absorbed and that maybe their view of the world would be changed once they had read it.”

The best book will be revealed at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 4 June.

Last year, the prize was won by A. M. Homes for May We Be Forgiven.

The shortlist:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
Hannah Kent, Burial Rites
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
Audrey Magee, The Undertaking
Eimear McBride, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing
Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

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Tracy Chevalier to rework Othello

The Girl with a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier is to retell Shakespeare’s tragic tale of intense jealousy Othello as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

Chevalier’s titles include Burning Bright and The Last Runaway. Her best known work is the Girl With a Pearl Earring, which has sold over 5 million copies, been translated into 39 languages, and was adapted into a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. The Guardian called the story a “wonderful novel, mysterious, steeped in atmosphere, (and) deeply revealing about the process of painting…truly magical”, and Time praised Chevalier’s work as a “portrait of radiance” and “a jewel of a novel”.

Chevalier commented: “Othello is essentially about being an outsider and the price you pay for that difference. Most of the protagonists in my novels are outsiders, geographically or mentally, so writing Othello’s story was an irresistible opportunity.”

Other writers participating in the series include Margaret Atwood, Howard Jacobson, Jo Nesbo, Anne Tyler and Jeanette Winterson.

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Kate Atkinson and Eleanor Catton shortlisted for Walter Scott Prize

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries feature on the “toughest choice of shortlist, from the strongest longlist, in the (Walter Scott) Prize’s five year history.”

The historical fiction shortlist takes readers from the Borderland of Scotland and England in the 1590s to nineteenth century New Zealand.

The judges commented, “The books this year have aroused passions and confounded sensibilities. We have been entertained, traumatised, haunted, exhilarated and transported to new continents, all miraculously within the two covers of a book.”

The winner of the £25,000 prize will be announced on the 13 June.

Past winners include The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry, The Long Song by Andrea Levy, and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.


Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Harvest by Jim Crace
Fair Helen by Andrew Greig
An Officer And A Spy by Robert Harris
The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

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Win original monster drawing by David O’Connell

Children aged three to 12 years old can win an original piece of artwork by the author of the Monster and Chips series David O’Connell!

To enter, the participant must produce a pencil sketch with labels or a full colour painting of a monster of his or her own creation. O’Connell advises young artists to consider the monster’s flesh/fur, number of body parts, clothes, grossness, food preferences, home, job, language and name.

Monster pictures can be sent via email to childrens.books@guardian.com with the subject line “Monster Competition”, or by post to Emily Drabble, Guardian children’s books, Culture Desk, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. An entry form also needs to be filled out on the Guardian website.

The deadline for entries is 5pm on the 29 April.

Another children’s competition that is running this month is the Waterstone’s Father’s Day poster competition.

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