Coatbridge writer Brian Conaghan wins Costa book award

Brian Conaghan Image copyright Ben Turner
Image caption Brian Conaghan said he was staggered to have won the Costa Children's Book Award

An award-winning author has described how he was rejected more than 200 times by publishers and agents before his first book was published.

Brian Conaghan's third novel, The Bombs That Brought Us Together, has been announced as the winner of the Costa Children's Book Award.

The former apprentice painter and decorator from Coatbridge is now in the running for the Costa Book of the Year.

But it took him 10 years of trying before his work was published.

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland, 45-year-old Conaghan, who now lives in Dublin, said it was "fantastic" to scoop the children's book prize.

'Quite staggering'

He added: "It's quite staggering to be even on the shortlist but to win it is amazing.

"It's beyond anything that you probably ever think about when you publish your books - me, certainly, because my goal was just to get something published."

He worked as an apprentice painter and decorator before he decided to take his Highers and go to university, where he started writing.

Asked what kept him going through the next decade, when he was rejected more than 200 times, he joked: "Stupidity, maybe?"

Image copyright Costa Book Award
Image caption Brian Conaghan is one of five category winners in the running for the Costa Book of the Year award

The novelist said: "When I started writing the first couple of novels, which remain unpublished, you learn that you're making a lot of mistakes.

"And I felt that I was probably getting better with each novel that I was writing."

He added: "I think I'm quite a tenacious person, quite a stubborn person so rejection is also part of what you do in life."

The Bombs That Brought Us Together centres around the friendship of two 14-year-old boys who come from different sides of a war.

His competition for the main Costa Book of the Year award includes Irish writer Sebastian Barry who won the novel prize for a second time.

Barry the prize with Days Without End, a historical novel set in 1850s America, after winning the same award in 2008 with The Secret Scripture.

Other winners announced in Tuesday's ceremony included Keggie Carew, who received the Costa biography award for Dadland, an exploration of her late father's past.

Alice Oswald won the poetry award for her collection Falling Awake and non-fiction writer Francis Spufford won the first novel award for his debut work of fiction Golden Hill.

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