2017
28.01

If I can just get one kid to pick up a book, or give school another chance when otherwise they wouldn’t, then I feel that it was all worth it. ~Andy McNab

ALCS
25/01/2017

The winner of the inaugural Ruth Rendell Award for the writer who has done the most to raise literacy levels in the UK, tells us why adult literacy is a cause very close to his heart.

1. Did you have any idea you were in contention for the Ruth Rendell Award, or was it a complete surprise? What does it mean to you to win it?

The first I knew was when I was told I was on the shortlist. I felt incredibly proud and also grateful to all the people who had suggested and supported my nomination. I never for a second thought I’d win, though. It was enough to just be nominated.

2. Why is literacy a cause so close to your heart, and in what ways do you see yourself as most effective in championing it?

It is something I feel really passionate about because it changed my life. As a child I was in and out of schools, never engaging and never switching on and bothering. When I joined the army (straight out of Borstal as a nearly 17-year-old) I had the reading age of an 11-year-old. It was the army that taught me to read and write, and just as importantly, showed me the power of education as an enabler, an enhancer and a launchpad. I go into schools, workplaces and prisons as often as I can and the message I want to give them is simple: You just need to switch on and start taking advantage of all the educational opportunities being offered to you. What education does is give you knowledge, and knowledge is power, power to make your own decisions and do what you want with your life. Frankly if I can do it, anyone can.

3. Would you share with us a recent project or a case history you have been involved with which has particularly gladdened your heart?

There are plenty of these. But one that has stuck with me was going to a youth referral centre in Yorkshire, for kids who had been excluded from mainstream schools and to a great extent been ‘given up on’. They had also pretty much given up on themselves. They weren’t the easiest audience, that’s for sure, but I’ve been there, I know what they are fighting against, I know what support they need and aren’t getting at home or in the community, and perhaps no one had talked to them before who had stood in their shoes. So we chatted about a few war stories, but also about my experiences of education and what reading has allowed me to do with my life, I signed a few books for them and left. A few weeks later I had an email to say that they had started their own book club. Not set up by the staff, but instigated and organised by them. That really made it all worthwhile. But the thing is, it’s not a numbers game, I’m not in it to convert the masses. If I can just get one kid to pick up a book, or give school another chance when otherwise they wouldn’t, then I feel that it was all worth it.

4. What particular projects will you be championing this year, and where will your work take you?

I’m off to the North Pole quite soon. I did a 100 nautical mile trek to the South Pole last year to raise money and awareness for the Reading Agency, and I think I’ve got the polar bug. Either that or it’s messed with my mind! That will be taking up a fair bit of the first part of this year, and then there is a bit of writing to do (my editor will start hyperventilating at that – he’s expecting the book to be finished by Easter!). By the end of the summer I hope to be back on the road doing a bit of promotion for the book but equally importantly getting back to schools, juvenile detention centres, prisons etc. to start bending some ears again. I am an ambassador for the Reading Agency’s Reading Ahead programme (formerly Six Book Challenge) and I do as much as I can getting into places on their behalf as that is a fantastic way to get people engaged. For people who have never had any kind of accreditation, fulfilling the requirements to receive that kind of certificate means a lot. And it really can change lives.

5. ALCS News is read by a broad spectrum of published writers: is there anything we can all do as writers to help to support the cause of adult literacy?

I think supporting organisations such as the Reading Agency and the National Literacy Trust with their campaigns is incredibly important. We are in a privileged position as authors. One practical way is the Quick Reads series, which are short (around 15,000 words) novellas or non-fiction books written for ’emerging’ readers. There is a specific style sheet and strict rules on how to write, and the hope is that they are a platform for readers to then go on and read more challenging works. That is definitely something worth getting involved with if the opportunity arises. Then of course there is supporting places like local libraries and also local independent bookshops. We have influence and the ability to engage people. Let’s use it!

Source: ALCS website

 

2016
07.12

Congratulations Andy,  you deserve it!!

National Literacy Trust
7 Dec 2016

Andy McNab wins inaugural Ruth Rendell Award

The inaugural Ruth Rendell Award was awarded to bestselling author and former soldier, Andy McNab, on Tuesday at the All-Party Parliamentary Writers Group Winter Reception.

We launched the Award in memory of the novelist Ruth Rendell, in partnership with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, to celebrate the author or writer who has done the most to raise literacy levels in the UK.

Andy McNab fought off stiff competition to win the award, thanks to his tireless championing of literacy over the course of many years. Andy has travelled the length and breadth of the UK, visiting factories, colleges, schools, prisons and libraries to encourage reluctant readers to take up the challenge of reading. He has inspired others with the story of how he struggled with literacy, but turned his life around by finally learning to read and write. His message is very simple; ‘if I can do it, anyone can’.

Andy has also contributed four Quick Read novels, 250,000 copies of which have been printed, raising awareness of literacy issues and giving new readers the encouragement to change their lives. In 2015, Andy went one step further in his championing of literacy by undertaking an epic trek to the South Pole, to raise funds for The Reading Agency.
Andy was nominated for the Ruth Rendell Award by Baroness Gail Rebuck, DBE.

He said:
“I’m delighted and very proud to be receiving this award. The literacy work I do is deeply personal. Had it not been for the education I received from the army as a 17-year-old, when I had the literacy of a 9-year-old, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Receiving this award gives me even more incentive to get out there and make sure that as many people as possible are helped to achieve, and change their lives for the better.”

Source: National Literacy Trust website

 

2016
27.10

Andy McNab in conversation with Hal Stewart on BFBS Radio
26 October 2016

Teaser clip interview with Hal Stewart above.

2016
15.10

Penguin Books, October 2016

‘This vast area of nothing, as big as Europe, with the constant drift of ice creating shapes before your eyes, it was like a mirage’ ~Andy McNab

“I like to think that my book are pretty realistic – I try to write about places I’ve been and experiences I’ve had. So whatever I’m doing in my life, I’m always wondering whether it might make a good setting or part of a plot. If you’ve read Dead Centre, my Nick Stone novel set in the kidnap and ransom world of Somalia, you’ll have seen this already. That book was inspired by my work out there with a private security company tasked with securing the release of a couple of western hostages being held by al-Shabaab.

You couldn’t get much further away from the heat and landscape of Somalia than Antarctica, and this is where I have set my brand new Nick Stone thriller, Cold Blood.

Back in early 2015 a mate asked if I fancied trekking to the South Pole, following the last 100 nautical miles that Shackleton and his crew should have covered had their ship not got stuck in the ice. I said yes without really thinking it would ever happen, so no one was more surprised than me when he got back in touch later that year to say that the expedition was on and we were to leave in November.

Actually, I suspect my wife was more surprised, but I promised I would be back in time for Christmas, so she got over it and I got ready to go.

It took a while to get there – commercial flights to the south of Chile, Russian military jet to the ice camp in Antarctica and then a WW2 Dakota over the mountains and onto the plateau itself – but once we were there it was spectacular, just looking out over this vast area of nothing, as big as Europe, with the constant drift of ice creating shapes before your eyes, it was like a mirage.

Then the hard work started. We got going most days at around 6am. Bizarrely, the navigation is exactly as it was 100 years ago. Because at the South Pole everything is north of you, as long as your shadow is broadly in front of you, you know you’re heading south. And it’s 24-hour daylight. There’s no compass, no SatNav – you don’t need it. Except for the horizon, there’s nothing. It’s totally flat, no points of reference. The desolation is extraordinary and bizarrely some people even find it claustrophobic!

We were in three tents of five, crammed in to help generate body heat. The first three or so hours of each day were spent melting ice on the pressure cookers and trying to fill water bottles and eat and drink as much as we could. Trekking in Antarctica, at temperatures averaging -35C, you ned about 8,000 calories a day.

On days that the temperature went down to -50C, it was really hard to breathe and to generate body heat. You try to keep everything covered up but if there’s even the smallest chink in your clothing, you get windburn. We had a doctor with us who would treat these burns using something which generated new skin underneath, our version of an Antarctic facelift.

Even though we tended to walk in silence, preserving our energy during the day, once we were tucked up in our tents at night, the banter got going. In some respects it wasn’t that different from my days in the army. You had to pee into a bottle rather than leave the tent, you had to take everything with you, leaving nothing there, just as we had to during hard routine as a special forces soldier. I probably found bagging up all my bodily deposits and happily letting them freeze in my pack rather easier to deal with than others!

For the final couple of days we started making out a shape on the horizon. It never seemed to get nearer, but eventually we got there, the Amundsen-Scott base that’s at the South Pole. To stand on that spot, and to think of who – and how few – had been there before you, was an incredible feeling.

We were then stranded at the base due to bad weather for several days before we were able to begin the journey back to Chile. This gave me the perfect opportunity to start thinking about how I could use this extraordinary experience in the next book. I knew that the ice and the expanse of emptiness was more than it seemed, and that is always a good starting point for a thriller. I had just one problem though. The South Pole is a bit bleak and barren, no polar bears there, and I thought we could have some fun getting Nick Stone in front of a new kind of predator. So I switched the backdrop from the South Pole up to the North, just as much ice and cold, just a few more furry friends!

So I got that squared away, leaving me with just one other issue to sort out whilst waiting for the plane. What was I going to buy my wife in duty free that was going to make up for missing Christmas after all…”

Source: Penguin Books

‘Cold Blood’ is the 18th Nick Stone novel and is available from 20 October.

Cold Blood by Andy McNab

 

 

2016
22.09

Copper City event Andy McNab

2016
13.09

“Andy is coming to Portsmouth for the Portsmouth Writers’ Hub October Hub night, in association with The University of Portsmouth & BritMilFit.

Andy will talk about his journey so far and introduce us to his latest Nick Stone thriller Cold Blood: Fifteen men out on the ice, one of which is a killer.

This introductory talk will be followed by an open Q&A. This is your chance to ask Andy any questions you might have in a friendly Q&A format. You might want to ask him tips on writing a thriller, advice on going from the military to the arts, or simply how to find your place in the creative industries.”

WHEN

WHERE
Richmond Lecture Theatre n1 – Richmond Building, Portland Street The University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, PO1 3DE, United Kingdom

For more information go here

evening-with-am-portsmouth