Press Release – Makaro Press
New Wellington publisher Mākaro Press is delighted to announce its indie hit The Book of Hat by Harriet Rowland was runner-up in the prestigious mind, body, spirit award presented by the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust just 11 days shy of what would have been the author’s 21st birthday. The winner of the $10,000 award was 96-year-old Lloyd Geering with his take on evolution From the Big Bang to God (Steele Roberts), and third place went to leading children’s writer Joy Cowley with Notes to a Friend (Pleroma Press) – a book for people on a spiritual journey.
From its sell-out launch in February, 48 hours before the 20-year-old author, known as Hat, entered a hospice in the final stage of cancer, The Book of Hat has gone on to become a surprise hit. Readers responded to the Paremata author’s upbeat and engaging voice, and the way she wrote more about her good luck and happiness than the reality of her illness and death. ‘It’s true: Harriet was more interested in pizza, rugby and hanging with friends,’ says her publisher Mary McCallum, ‘than her next round of chemo.’
One Auckland libraries blogger has called the book ‘the real The Fault in Our Stars’, and Sir Peter Jackson, who met Harriet, calls The Book of Hat ‘funny, truthful and wise’ and praises her ‘genuine talent’.
Publisher Mary McCallum says she and the Rowland family were delighted to see The Book of Hat recognised by the Ashton Wylie trustees, who not only placed the book second but also donated $1000 to the young adult cancer organisation CanTeen which receives $1 from each sale of Harriet’s book. The award was received by Harriet’s grandmother, Jo Kelly.
‘The Ashton Wylie Awards aim to assist people to become more perfectly loving,’ said Ms McCallum, ‘and Hat’s book spills with love: for her family and friends, for dogs, for the world; and it calls on everyone to do the same while they can.’
Ms McCallum said the Ashton Wylie Awards night on Friday at the Hopetoun Alpha in Auckland was a powerful and moving event which included an award for an unpublished manuscript. ‘Great care was taken to make all the finalist authors and their families feel acknowledged and special – their work treasured as a valuable resource in a world thirsty for meaning and spiritual growth. And that word “spiritual” is used in its widest sense: the three winning published books couldn’t have been more different in their writing on evolution, living and dying with cancer at 20, and notes for a spiritual journey.’
The Book of Hat is a collection of Harriet Rowland’s blogposts written from when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2011, and published under Mākaro’s Submarine imprint. The blue book with a hat of stars on the cover has been bought by students and grandparents alike, and has made its way into CanTeen gift packs, hospices, adult book groups, school libraries and classrooms. A burst of internet sales saw it fly off as far as Moscow, Prague and Wisconsin.
Unusually, The Book of Hat topped two Booksellers’ charts in the same week: the total sales chart for independent bookshops, and the general bestseller chart for children’s and young adult books.
Mary McCallum says Mākaro has formed an association with ebook publisher Rosa Mira Book to turn Harriet’s book into an ebook and it will be launched on her birthday: 26 August. Harriet Rowland died in March. Her brother Tom Rowland (18) is her literary executor. The Book of Hat is available at all good bookstores, online at http://thebookofhat.com/ and as an ebook at http://rosamirabooks.com/ from 26 August.