Moira Young won the children's book prize for her thrilling story of a girl searching for her kidnapped twin brother.
Young found out a little while ago and had to keep it secret. "I think I shrieked," she said. "I was in a crowded shopping street and yes, I screamed and had to sit down. I attracted a few looks from Christmas shoppers but there you go."
Literary acclaim is just the latest chapter in Young's striking career, which began as an actor – "the height of it was being a tap dancing chorus girl in High Society in the West End" – before she became an opera singer for 10 years, which had its ups and downs. One rejection letter read simply: "Dear Ms Young, There is nothing for you at Glyndebourne. Yours sincerely."
More recently Young has been PA to the editor of the Bath Chronicle, the city where she now lives. "I seem to have reinvented myself around every 10 years, I'm hoping I'll stay here for a bit. I think this is where I was meant to be heading."
Young said much of her inspiration came from the epic movies she grew up with, from Gone with the Wind to The Searchers to The Wizard of Oz. Her novel has been optioned by Scott and screenwriter Jack Thorne is in the process of adapting it for film.
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