The Welsh Books Council has announced that the winner of the 2013 Tir na n-Og English Award is Tree of Leaf and Flame by Daniel Morden & Brett Breckon.

For more information log on to the Welsh Books Council website

"It’s always a pleasure to attend an awards ceremony," says Pont Books editor, Viv Sayer.

"It’s nail-biting, but in a very pleasurable way, when all three shortlisted titles come from the same publisher – Pont Books at Gomer Press." she explains.

And so it was last night at the Central Library Cardiff, when Daniel Morden received the Tir na n-Og prize for Tree of Leaf and Flame, his retelling of stories from the Mabinogi. In the audience were Ruth Morgan and Chris Glynn, shortlisted for their delightful picture book The Gardening Pirates. With them was their son, Gethin, all three showing their warm appreciation for the winning title.

Before the presentation there was an opportunity for a unique insight into Daniel’s work when he talked about Tree of Leaf and Flame – and about his career and writing in general – to 13 Year Six children from St Andrews Major Primary School. Sharing an enthusiasm for reading is clearly a regular event in school because the children’s questions were informed, intelligent and, occasionally, provocative.

‘Would you give up writing if someone offered you £10 million?’ asked one incisive interviewer.

Daniel thought long and hard . . . and said he’d wait until it happened and then decide!

Other questions were a little easier to answer. Some of the boys were enthusiastic about the gory bits in the stories. Daniel explained how older material, such as the myths and legends he works with as a storyteller, often contain dark elements, which he would hesitate to use if they sprang from his own imagination. Somehow the fact that these stories have been told and retold for hundreds and hundreds of years gave him permission to tell them again, and in his own way.

He talked about his earlier book Dark Tales from the Woods, explaining how he’d had to piece together scraps of material from a variety of sources. He’d been reluctant to write Tree of Leaf and Flame at first – because the stories from the Mabinogi are a national treasure in Wales – but then reasoned that the process was not so different from Dark Tales from the Woods.

A discussion about ‘the film of the book’ led to a consensus that it would not be a good idea. As far as Daniel is concerned, he creates a picture with words, ably assisted by the artist Brett Breckon, whose cover and illustrations won universal praise.

It was fitting that both the pre-ceremony discussion and the presentation itself took place in the library. Daniel spoke with affection and gratitude of his father, who not only went on reading to him long after he was able to read for himself, but took him to the library. ‘He told me once,’ said Daniel, ‘that he envied me because I had so many worlds still to explore.’

What a fitting tribute to the way that books bring people together, authors and publishers, parents, children, teachers and librarians! And the Welsh Books Council, of course, without whose generous support and encouragement, making books in Wales would be a whole lot harder.

More information about Tree of Leaf and Flame on the Gomer website.  Available in hardback & ebook formats.