A children’s wild wizard book featuring a 12-year-old boy, who is a young carer looking after his mother who has M.E, has won the international Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award for 2022.
It’s all the more remarkable because the author, Sally Doherty, first found a publisher for ‘Toby and the Silver Blood Witches' but then had to go it alone when the publisher closed. Sally published the book herself 18 months ago.
Languages graduate Sally, who lives in Surrey with her husband and a three-legged rescue dog, let out a whoop of joy when she heard the news just before Christmas:
“I’m in absolute shock. I cannot believe I have won. A massive thank you to all the book bloggers who judged the entries. It’s been an honour to be part of this competition”, she tweeted.
Sally writes ‘middle grade’ fiction for children aged between nine and 12 – and that’s where her hero, Toby Bean, stays rooted for her next book ‘Toby and the Wizards of Wildhaven’, which will hit the book stores on 31st March.
Sally, who has had ME herself for almost 16 years, was picked winner for the age-group from among 200 entries.
She is donating 10% from all book sales of her debut novel to The ME Association. We’re honoured that she has agreed to give us the same deal for her second book.
‘Toby and the Silver Blood Witches’ is on course to become a classic in its genre. And it might never have got a look-in were it not for assiduous marketing by Sally, her family and friends.
School talks, book signings, special offers, getting friends to check how the book is being displayed in the book stores, hours and hours spent online. You name it. She’s done it! And she’s got back into the groove for Toby2.
Within the limitations of her illness, she let anyone who was watching know what a ripping yarn it was – a children’s book with the pace of a thriller, devil-may-care encounters with witches and wizards in the sky and the solid, down-to-earth and distinctly careworn plod of looking after people too ill to care for themselves.
Sally let us in to the secrets of the origins of her ‘Toby’ books in an email interview she gave to this charity’s ME Essential magazine a year ago:
She became ill with ME when she was 23. “One day, whilst lying in bed, Toby’s story flew into my head and demanded to be written. At the time I wasn’t well enough so I took notes and notes. Several years later, I started to slowly write it. Just five minutes, three days a week to start with. I can now do 30 minutes on good days – it’s the biggest task of my day.
“I always try to look for the silver lining in my situation and it’s nice to think that, when my life slowed down, creativity found me again.”
She’s re-signed the illustrator Sarah Jane Docker for Toby2, which is now available to pre-order before its 31st March release, priced at £7.99. The Sally-Sarah partnership? It’s a bit of a marriage made in magic-dom.