A writer from Kent has won a prestigious award for a book set in the county.
Folkestone author Manjeet Mann has won the Costa Children’s Book Award for his novel ‘The Crossing’.
The story, Mrs. Mann’s second book, takes place in Dover and tells the story of two teenagers from opposite worlds centered around canal crossings.
Written in verse, it follows Natalie, a Dover resident who has just lost her mother, and Sammy, who has left his home and family in Eritrea to have the chance of a new life in Europe.
In a speech to KentOnline, Ms Mann said she was “infidel” to the award and that she had found inspiration from her hometown.
“I still can not quite believe it. I keep smiling – it’s something I really did not see happening,” she added.
“The inspiration really moved down to the Kent coast. I sat on the idea for about seven years, but I just knew there was a story there. [with the Channel crossings].
‘I just want people to see that there is more that unites us than separates us.’
“I think we’re feeling the news more there than maybe in other areas, and when I saw the city that I live in change through gentrification, all these stories bubbled away, and I think they made up the city’s structure. I just understand inspired by what is around me. “
After moving to Kent from Walsall seven years ago, Mrs Manjeet was selected for the WriteNow program at Penguin Random House, and she produced her debut novel ‘Run, Rebel’ during the program.
The book was subsequently nominated for the Carnegie Medal and won the Carnegie Shadower’s Choice Award, Miscellaneous Book Award, UKLA Book Award and Sheffield Children’s Book Award. It was also a Guardian Best Book in 2020.
Mrs Mann has also founded Run the World, an organization that works with women and girls from marginalized backgrounds in Birmingham and Folkestone and helps empower them through sports and storytelling.
“I think my primary hope and message has always been empathy, that was why I decided to write ‘The Crossing,'” she explained.
“I just want people to take it away and see that there is more that unites us than separates us.”