The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature was given Wednesday night to Judy Blundell, for her novel What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic Press), a noirish coming-of-age mystery set just after World War II. It marks the first time that Scholastic has won the award.

“You probably don’t know me,” Blundell told the audience, “but I’ve worked for most of the houses in this room. This is the first book I’ve put my name on.” Blundell recounted how she had written well over a hundred books, having “sneaked in the back door of publishing as

Judy Blundell with her editor, David Levithan.

a writer-for-hire.” Her many media tie-ins, romances, mysteries and Star Wars novels were all written under a pseudonym. “For a writer who does this kind of work, there is a danger,” she said. “You can develop a kind of writer’s amnesia. Not that you’ve lost your past, or your memory, but your future. You’ve lost your voice—your writer’s voice, your compulsion to tell a story that’s yours.”

Blundell paid lavish tribute to her longtime editor, David Levithan. “David told me to write something and bring it to him,” Blundell recalled. “I of course said, ‘What do you need?’ He said, ‘Just write something.’ ” And so she did; What I Saw and How I Lied was the result. “Thank you, my brilliant editor,” Blundell said, “for giving me back my voice.”

Click here to read profiles of Blundell and the other four NBA finalists.