Well – it has been an interesting few months. My second book, ‘Indigo Donut’, is published on Thursday. Time to have a look back.
My debut novel, ‘Orangeboy’, was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Award for Older Fiction and The Bookseller YA Prize. It was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for regional awards.
I’m sitting hear on a Sunday morning, listening to Gemma Cairney on BBC 6 Music, writing these words and it still feels like someone else’s story.
But I have proof it happened. And lessons have been learnt. Here they are in pictures.
1. Launches are ace! I was lucky enough to have two.
Launch number 1: Sharing a moment of pride with Caroline Sheldon (my agent and dress twin) and Emma Goldhawk, my editor.
And if you ask folks casually if they’ll wear something orange – they do!
Launch 2: The youngest guest sports a top t-shirt.
2. It’s surprising who will help promote your book, if you ask nicely.
‘Orangeboy’ is set locally in Hackney. Here are my two local MPs. And Reggie Yates. There’s also an army of book bloggers who spread the word for free, because they love books. They have my eternal gratitude.
3. Schools research you.
I am grateful my partying days were pre-camera phone and speedy upload. Though it’s also like an unexpected archive of hairstyles past.
4. Folks from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) are the peer support I didn’t realise was possible.
They look out for you. They’ve got your back. They come to and take pictures at your launch. They summon up cake toppers.
Whooo! Cake toppers!
Writer, actor and You Tube dance stars Odette Elliott and Don
Authors Tania Tay and Peter Bunzl
5 It’s searingly lovely sharing a table with authors you admire.
It’s an odd feeling going into bookshops, seeing authors’ names and realising that you’ve stood next to them drinking wine.
Fen and Kerry from Letterbox Library with a selection of wonderful reads from Chitra Soundar, Candy Gourlay, Catherine Johnson, Malorie Blackman and many more
6. And, you get to meet your s/heroes. Forget the old adage. Meet them. Seriously, MEET THEM.
Enjoying the warm and hospitality of Lambeth Library with Stella Duffy
A ‘still-can’t-believe-it’ smile next to Malorie Blackman.
My daughter’s hero, SF Said.
7. Ben Bailey Smith AKA Doc Brown does a wicked Yoda.
My daughter, my editor and I sat in on the recording session. Up until then, I’d only heard Marlon’s voice in my head. Suddenly, his words were coming out of someone else’s mouth. And they sounded like how Marlon should sound. As you can gather, he was also very funny. Find out more about the Audible book here.
8. You make fantastic friends.
Me (coming perilously close to manspreading), Sue Wallman, Eugene Lambert, Kathryn Evans, event chair, Michelle Toy and panel originator, Olivia Levez.
Writer, Olivia Levez, had the wondrous idea of assembling a panel of debut authors to tour the country to chat about publishing, editing, writing and buckets of self-doubt. One of me happiest memories is the last twelve months, is sitting in a Premier Inn room next to a roundabout in the outskirts of Liverpool, quaffing fizzy wine and realising that the Lost and Found panellers are wonderful people. They are also SCBWI folk. So it figures.
9. Sometimes second hand shops, including over-priced ones in Brick Lane, East London, call you in at the right time.
10. Finally, one of the happiest day’s of my life, was when my daughter was born. This young person who has inspired me so much was standing next to me when my name was called out at Waterstones.
A very, very happy day!
Indigo Donut, my second book with young adult protagonists, is published by Hodder on 12th July 2017.