Wow, what a week! Small Spaces has been included in the shortlist for the Australian Book Industry Awards 2019 Book of the Year for Older Children. I am so fortunate and proud to be included alongside these other fantastic books by such talented authors.
On 26th March I attended the CBCA Book of the Year Shortlist announcement at the State Library of Victoria and was absolutely thrilled to find out Small Spaces is a finalist in the Older Readers category. Here I am with the other shortlistees who were in attendance for the announcement – it was so great to be there in person!
Can’t quite believe I’m telling you this, but Small Spaces has been shortlisted in the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature. I am delighted, thrilled and gobsmacked!
Small Spaces is a debut novel, a fast-paced, tightly crafted psychological narrative that is hard to put down. When she was eight years old, Tash’s imaginary friend Sparrow became a real-life nightmare. Nine years later, Sparrow returns and the dark games continue. This is a refreshing, rollercoaster thriller that blurs the lines between truth and fiction and keeps you guessing until the end. Epstein has created great characters, an authentic Australian small-town setting and grapples well with the idea of a family returning to a community that they’d left years earlier after a traumatic event.
The novel’s structure offers a carefully constructed nonlinear narrative which juxtaposes present tense with childhood psychiatric transcripts, following an abduction which triggers much of the story. We are given parallel timelines that merge beautifully. It is here that Small Spaces works so wonderfully, the novel moving to a compelling and very satisfying resolution.
Here is the entire shortlist for the Ethel Turner Prize:
It’s my absolute pleasure to tell you Small Spaces is a finalist in the 2018 Aurealis Awards in the Best Young Adult Novel category. Congrats to all of the finalists and a huge thanks to the awards judges! Winners are announced on 4 May 2019. You can find the shortlists for each category on the Aurealis Awards website.
I’m thrilled to announce that SMALL SPACES has been shortlisted for the Readings YA Book Prize for 2018! You can find out more about the prize on the Readings website here. It’s an absolute honour to be in the company of such fantastic #LoveOzYA books.
Nina Kenwood, Readings’ Marketing Manager and Chair of the Judging Panel, comments: ‘The stories in this year’s shortlist range from romantic comedy to post-apocalyptic plague, and inspire everything from creeping horror to sheer joy. The six books are of an exceptionally high standard, demonstrating the extraordinary depth of talent to be found amongst debut and early-career Australian YA authors.’
Of SMALL SPACES, Nina said:
Sarah Epstein is not afraid to take her readers to dark places and Small Spaces is a gripping mystery and a deliciously creepy page-turner. Like the best psychological thrillers, this novel will have you on the edge of your seat, and keep you guessing until the very end.
On Friday 13th April I had a fantastic time with friends, family, readers and awesome buddies from the Melbourne bookish community to launch my debut novel, the YA psychological thriller, SMALL SPACES.
It’s taken me a month to write this post because, during the last few weeks, my terminally-ill dad’s condition worsened to the point that he passed away on the 25th April. I’d spent most of March and April travelling back and forth to Sydney to spend time with Dad after he received his grim prognosis, and incredibly, Dad’s rapid decline stabilised long enough for me to return to Melbourne to launch my book before I received a phone call from family a few days later urging me to return quickly to Dad’s bedside in Sydney. I made it in time to spend four final days with him alongside my mum, sister and brother, and my sister and I were by Dad’s side as he took his final breaths on Anzac Day. The time between Dad’s cancer diagnosis to his death was a mere seven weeks. Everything moved so fast.
Emotionally, it’s been a very confusing and exhausting time. I find myself grappling with guilt over feeling happy about my debut novel when I’m so desperately sad about losing my dad. When people compliment me about my book I get teary at their kindness, and when I receive good news about SMALL SPACES from my publisher, my excitement is dulled by grief.
But family and friends have reminded me how proud my dad would be to see me achieving my dreams after so much hard work, and how he’d encourage me to enjoy every moment of this journey. Before we all understood the extent of Dad’s illness and how quickly things would change, he was planning a trip down to Melbourne to attend my book launch with my mum and sister to help me celebrate. As I mentioned in a speech at his funeral, Dad was always reaching for the things he loved in life with both hands and a full heart, and he’d want us all to go on and do the same.
So I am proud to show off photos of the wonderfully happy event that was my debut novel’s book launch. It was such a great turn out (thank you, friends) and everything flowed perfectly. The staff at Readings St Kilda were fabulous to work with and so accommodating – I can’t thank them enough for providing such a wonderful space and for facilitating everything, from microphones to drinks catering to keeping us on schedule on the night. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book store with a huge range and helpful staff – I highly recommend a visit.
The proceedings kicked off with an introduction by my editor from Walker Books Australia, Nicola Santilli, who travelled all the way from Sydney for the launch. I can’t thank Nicola enough for her constant support and the way she’s championed this novel from the very start. As Nicola’s first acquisition, SMALL SPACES is very much her baby as well as mine, so it was lovely she was able to come down and help me officially launch it into the world. Huge thanks also to the whole Walker Books family for their enthusiasm and hard work in bringing my debut novel into the world. I feel really fortunate to have such a fabulous publishing house backing me and wanting this book to succeed as much as I do.
I was so very lucky and grateful that YA author Fleur Ferris agreed to drive all the way down to Melbourne from her home in country NSW to help me launch SMALL SPACES. I have long been a fan of Fleur’s gripping YA novels, and we started chatting privately on Twitter many years ago just as her first novel RISK was being released into the world. Fleur’s always been so kind and encouraging to me, and watching her publishing journey is a huge inspiration for my own. When I found out Fleur was providing a blurb for the front cover of my debut novel, I was honoured and grinning from ear to ear. I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to help me launch SMALL SPACES and have a little Q&A session with on the night. So thrilled when Fleur agreed to do it!
After my in-conversation chat with Fleur, it was over to the book signing table. This was such a great opportunity to thank each person individually for coming, and also gave me a chance to say hello to everyone and pose for some pics.
Huge thanks to everyone who came along and supported me. You helped create a fun and buzzing atmosphere on the night and the book launch was, by all accounts, a big success.
Guess what? A couple of days ago I received a finished copy of SMALL SPACES from my publisher, Walker Books Australia, and here’s a video of me seeing it for the first time. Such a thrill! In bookstores on April 1.
Please join me in celebrating the release of my debut YA psychological thriller, SMALL SPACES, on Friday 13 April 2018 at 6.00pm. This is a free event held at Readings St Kilda, 112 Acland Street, St Kilda VIC.
I will be in conversation with Fleur Ferris, author of RISK, BLACK and WRECK. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be goodie bags and book signing.