Handing on the tiara …

Daniel Craig is busy killing people on ITV, so I’d better make this quick.

Today was, I suppose, the day I officially handed over my sash and tiara to Janet Foxley, who is the new winner of the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Prize, with her story about giants for 6+ year-olds, called Muncle Trogg. Any writer who can start her story with her chief protagonist being suspended upside down, by his ankles, by his younger brother, gets my vote. She’s about to start on a thrillingly exciting year, and to get to know a bunch of wonderful, supportive people, who get her inner world and what she’s been trying to do for so many years. She will have fun. Go, Janet. Enjoy!

It was also, by total coincidence – but it didn’t feel that way – the day my first real, proper copies of Beads, Boys and Bangles arrived through the post. My manuscript is a book! It has a colourful cover with my name on, an ISBN number, real pages (304 of them) and everything. It isn’t in the shops yet, and won’t be for a few weeks, but it is, nevertheless, an artefact.

It will be days before I dare open it and read it properly. If I discover anything less than perfect about it, it’s TOO LATE. And it’s too early to appreciate how wonderful and amazing it is to have it there, after all the months of writing and planning, and decades of dreaming about it.

It’s odd, this book. It marks the end of being a debut author. I didn’t know, until about this time last year, that ‘debut author’ existed as a phenomenon. If you are a debut tour guide, or a debut management consultant, you keep very quiet about it. Nobody likes to entrust their schoolkids/multimillion pound businesses to a person with no experience. But if you are a first-timer in fiction – certainly children’s fiction – people are, quite frankly, lovely. There are special blogs, special interviews, special symbols and special competitions to ensure you get a chance of being noticed. It’s like going to a new school and finding there’s a special welcoming committee of cool kids, eager to show you around. Thanks, guys – you were wonderful.

There isn’t, as far as I know, a ‘second book’ category, for sophomores. I’m just another writer now.

Yup. Just another writer. But, actually, that feels good too.

Hello book, bye bye tiara ...

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