Lisa Heathfield has won the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Book Award 2017/18 with her novel Paper Butterflies and received her award during a visit to Portsmouth High School.
The GDST Book Award was voted for by all the Librarians across the network of twenty-five GDST schools. The long list is compiled by the Librarians who each nominate one book. Over the summer holidays they read all the books and then voted for a top five in September. The five books then became the short list which all the Years 7, 8 and 9 girls were encouraged to read and then vote for their favourite.
Girls at Portsmouth High School were joined by pupils from Brighton and Hove GDST to listen to the author talking about her writing and her life. Before becoming a mum to her three sons, Lisa was a secondary school English teacher and loved inspiring teenagers to read. She launched her writing career with her debut novel, Seed.
Paper Butterflies, her second novel, is about June, a girl who lives a dark, and secret, life at home with her stepmother and stepsister, and it’s a life not even her dad has any idea about. She feels as trapped as a butterfly in a net, until she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. June sees a tiny glimmer of hope that she might soon be able to fly away and be free, but at what cost could that freedom come?
‘The GDST book award shortlist really encourages our girls to read books that the wouldn’t normally choose,’ said Portsmouth High School’s Librarian, Mrs Bartlett. ‘It was a great experience for the girls to be able to listen to, and ask questions of, an author they have just read.’
‘Do you always write about girls?’ asked Tabby, 13. Lisa replied that she tended to write about girls but there is a story in her head which definitely has the lead character of a boy and she will write that story one day.
‘It was lovely to meet her and hear how her mind works,’ continued Tabby. ‘It has really encouraged me to read her other books.’
‘I have been writing since the age of nine,’ said Lisa. ‘When my writing spirit comes in I can write while my boys are at school. I hand write everything and don’t re-read until I type up the first draft. It has been a lovely visit. The girls were so engaged.’