I think we had a room full of writers because lots of the questions were geared to how we all broke through and got published – we answered with our usual honesty so I hope people gained knowledge and inspiration. They certainly gained Prosecco and mince pies thanks to Olivia’s wonderful family!
And of course- we picked our #LostandFound giveaway winner! You didn’t think I’d forgotten did you?
There are not enough thank yous in the world but here are some:
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you.
Here’s a bit of what I officially said:
I am stunned to have won this award – when I saw the calibre of the other authors I thought I didn’t have a hope. So often children’s fiction is seen as the poor cousin to adult books – yet in it, we tackle some of the hardest subjects in the most innovative of ways. I am so proud to hold the banner up for YA fiction.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals. This is because the nominees and winners are chosen by librarians. Only librarians. And I have haunted libraries all my life.
I’ve blogged about it in the past, this is my post from 2015. I even shadowed the shortlist last year – something I highly recommend – great books and you learn SO MUCH and get to hang out and chat about some of the best books in the country.
It all starts with a list of nominations. It’s usually a very long list and this year is no exception – it is a very long list. But there is one tiny difference this year.
I am on it.
It means so much I feel like I’ve won already. I will always be a Carnegie nominated author.
I think I might go and have another little cry.
Congratulations to all the nominees for both the Greenaway and the Carnegie. I am beyond honoured to be on the list with you.
There are things you don’t even think about when you’re longing for that first publisher to take an interest in your writing. One of those is foreign rights sales – and they come as such a lovely surprise when they happen. Continue reading “More of Me Goes Global!”→
This weekend was probably the best booky weekend I have ever had for I was hosted by the marvellous folk at Edinburgh Book Festival.
The Festival takes place in a little corner of magic called Charlotte Square Gardens. A lovely little green, surrounded by white pavillions and the rather marvellous Spiegletent. There’s a book shop, obviously, and a bar – bonus! And the folk who organise it all take the best care of their authors. They put you up in hotels where, even the most directionally challenged (me) , can’t get lost. They give you chocolate and make sure your every need is met – but really, what more do you need? Book lovers, chocolate and books. Can’t go wrong really.
I did an event with Jo Cotterill and was so thrilled to have a full house – Scbwi members GO GO GO! I have kind permission from the Bookwitch to reblog her write up because I can’t put it any better than she did. I even got a picture of her which is RARE INDEED:
And here’s her write up:
Unusual and Unexpected by Bookwitch
It helps to have authors who are former actors, or just plain crazy. Last night’s brilliant performance – that is the only word for it – by Jo Cotterill and Kathryn Evans was really something. The bright spark who put them together is either quite cunning or someone simply got lucky. Jo and Kathryn felt they were […]
So there you go, what a weekend. It’s alright this writing lark. Just need to finish the new book and I’ll start to feel like a proper author.
PS. One tiny thing – voting for the Edinburgh Festival First Book award doesn’t close until October so there’s still time, if you feel so inclined, to vote for More of Me, my debut novel, I’d be ever so grateful 🙂
I have had some amazing reviews for More of Me. The Book Bag, Lovereading4kids, Serendipity Reviews, Guardian Children’s books all rated it highly: one of the book sellers in my local Waterstones is pushing for it to be book of the month. Generally it’s been really well received. There’s been some not great reviews too – one on a website I love, Luna’s Little Library. It smarts a bit, but there you go, not all books/characters appeal to all people. I am so grateful to them, for not only taking the time to read but also to share their thoughts with others.
I say that , but the poor reviews, the “meh” reviews, stick in you like a glass splinter – and for a while, I googled reviews obsessively – even, despite stern advice from other authors, checking out Goodreads ( as a reader I’ve always hung out on GR so it’s hard to let that one go!) I worried endlessly about letting down my publisher, my agent – my family – all the people who have invested in me and my book. My mood could swing up or down depending on what someone had said about More of Me. It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous.
And then I had this message – not a public review but sent directly to me, and perspective was restored:
Picture this, I receive a book for Christmas, called Slash, an autobiography of the greatest man on earth). 457 pages on, it’s the 16th May. I finally finish the book – you could say I am a slow reader, aha! I haven’t read a fiction book in years – biographies of people I love have become the norm. Your book, a gift, is sitting on my shelf still unread. I have a choice between More of Me and the Beatles. Out of guilt, I pick your book to read (best decision ever made) and within minutes, I’m hooked. 17th May arrives and I am having a super bad day at school but your book was there to get me through it, I was in it with Teva! In the bus, I’m reading it, ignoring my gut feeling that everyone is looking at me, no one reads these days, it’s not “cool”. I get home and only have a few pages left. What is happening? Am I actually choosing to read a book over playing the guitar or watching something on Netflix?
Your book has brought me back to my childhood of actually wanting to read, it was incredible! I can not thank you enough, your book was amazing, HF Age 15
I am still tearful reading it. Because this is what matters. Making a difference to one girl, on one day and maybe for a bit longer. This is the ONLY reason to cry at a review. Everything else is petals on the wind.
More of Me is available in all UK bookstores – and if it isn’t, you can ask them for it!
Questions of identity are at the heart of my book More of Me. Teva, my main character, really struggles with growing up and, though her circumstances are unique, she’s absolutely not alone in the way she feels. Growing up is hard. Since the book came out, I’ve been touched by the number of people who’ve said how much they identified with Teva – in particular with Fifteen and Teva – whose relationship is like two parts of a whole fighting for dominance and understanding.
It was this question of identity that prompted an amazing young woman to get in touch with me. She has Dissociative Identity Disorder and she suggested I ask Nicola Morgan, author of Blame my Brain, The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed, why she thinks some teenagers, even those from relatively stable backgrounds, find the transition from child to adult so difficult?
The key is your word “transition” – moving from child to adult is a massive change. Obviously life involves change, but there’s a big difference for teenagers: to get from being a protected, dependent child to an unprotected, independent adult, you have to break away and that can be tough. You have to stop automatically believing a) what the adults around you say and b) that they can protect you. This can lead to big anxieties. But growing your own views is part of becoming independent. How can you have your own views if you always believe everything your adults say?
I call adolescence a perfect storm of change.
Everything is changing: inside you (brains, hormones, feelings, understanding of the world, self-knowledge, empathy) and outside you (school, expectations, responsibilities, fears, friends, exams). Change is exciting but it can also be scary. And even if it’s not scary it is very preoccupying! That means you can make mistakes because part of your mind is occupied by all the changes and how they are making you feel. How we feel affects how we behave so sometimes it’s harder for teenagers to be in control of words and actions because their thoughts can feel so overwhelming. Everyone, of any age, makes more mistakes when under pressure or preoccupied by worries.
Having what you call a “stable” background isn’t always enough to make this easy. In fact, teenagers from “stable” backgrounds can still have a tough time and many from difficult backgrounds can be really resilient. It’s more complicated than simply who and how your parents are. Teenagers are also affected by the people surrounding them at school – in fact, I’m currently writing The Teenage Guide to Friends, because friendship and peer pressure are such a big deal for teenagers.
I also think there are things about modern life, with the internet so dominant, that increase the pressure on teenagers compared with when I was a teenager. Pressure to conform to unreachable ideas of perfection, the risks of social media, digital distraction: all these and more can make life tougher.
Teva, in More Of Me, I think demonstrates perfectly the changes that happen during adolescence, and how hard it is to leave each change behind. I won’t spoil the ending for others by saying whether or not it’s a book about mental illness, but it’s obvious that it is about a girl who is struggling with the changes in herself. She’s incredibly self-conscious, really watching herself change each year. I think you capture that brilliantly!
I think it’s incredibly important to realise that good mental health doesn’t mean always feeling happy but it does mean not always feeling sad.
Anxiety, fear and sadness are normal, healthy emotions but feeling them so much that your life is being spoiled isn’t OK. If that’s you, talk to a trusted adult: there are so many ways we can help!
I’m so grateful to Nicola, who believe me is so busy it makes my head explode just thinking about it, in taking the time to write this. If you’re struggling and don’t feel there is a trusted adult you can turn to, you can contact Childline ( if you’re under 16) or The Site, (if you’re over 16). I promise you, there’s help out there, you are not alone x