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14.09.07 | Graeme Neill
Three Waterstone's booksellers are on the four-strong shortlist for the Not Yet Published award, which celebrates National Book Tokens' 75th anniversary.
The award brings with it a publishing contract with Faber and an advance of at least £2,000. The finalists are Sarah Crowley, who works at Waterstone's North Street in Brighton; Helen Raymond, from Waterstone's Deansgate in Bolton; Anya Stern, from independent bookseller West End Lane Books in London; and Robert Williams, from Waterstone's Deansgate in Manchester.
Crowley, 41, was shortlisted for her novel Salted. She began writing short stories three years ago and has had her previous work on several prize shortlists. "I like to take everyday events and examine a gentle slide from normality into something that is strange and skew-whiff," she said.
Raymond, 23, whose short story collection Lost Property is nominated, won her first prize when she was 14. "There's nothing like reading a good short story to make me want to write my own," she said.
Stern's novel Come Monday has been shortlisted. The 30-year-old author describes her childhood as "spent marching with the CND, wearing corduroy, fighting with my brothers and camping in France". "More than anything else, writing is an incredibly luxurious way of thinking about things," she said.
Thirty-year-old Williams' Luke and Jon is his first attempt at writing young adult fiction. Williams is also a musician, whose work has been championed by Radio 2's Mark Radcliffe. "I have found the [writing] process captivating, fulfilling, frustrating and inspiring," he said.
The winner will be announced on 14th November. The shortlist was chosen from 177 entries. "It was exciting to see the range of ambition in the submissions," said judge and author Francis Spufford. "Our reading certainly showed that there is a wealth of ideas and enthusiasm at the sharp end of the book industry. The budding writers we chose for our shortlist all have potential in different ways."
The other members of the judging panel are Faber's Lee Brackstone and Julian Loose; Alex Clark, deputy literary editor of the Observer; independent bookseller Patrick Neale; and author Adele Parks.