It’s now the day after the day after the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize ceremony and I’m still in a daze.
Blown Away winning the Illustrated Book category was crazy enough…
…but the fact that it was also awarded the overall prize was almost too much for my tiny brain to comprehend.
I think it was pretty obvious to everyone at Waterstones Piccadilly on Thursday night how shocked I was. My speeches are a blur – I have no idea what I said. My only memory is of Melissa Cox (Waterstones Head of children’s books and awards chair) reminding me to thank my wife. And thank goodness she did!
Obviously I am absolutely thrilled to win this award, but making and publishing a picture book is very much a team sport. I wouldn’t be writing this now if it wasn’t for the efforts of a lot of people.
My brilliant agent, Jodie Hodges at United, turned everything around for me. She whipped my portfolio into shape sharpish, getting me to draw lots of kids book staples including pirates, aliens, dinosaurs and, crucially, penguins. Every single step of the way she has given me precisely the right advice at precisely the right time and I feel very, very lucky to have her in my corner. Julian Dickson and Jane Willis at United have also been extremely supportive, so huge thanks to them too.
The children’s book team at HarperCollins are just incredible. I want to thank every single one of them for being so welcoming and encouraging right from the start. My editors, Rachel Denwood and Lydia Madden, are total geniuses. If they had edited this blog post it would be twenty times better than it is. It’s a great feeling to have such talented people pulling for me and helping to make my books as good as they possibly can be. James Stevens art directed Blown Away and, again, improved it no end. He’s just got a fab new job which is great for him but very sad for me. He was fantastic to work with and I hope that our paths cross again at some point in the future. Finally, the HC PR team – Geraldine Stroud, Mary Byrne and Nicola Carthy – have done an amazing job of promoting the book. We’ve already put on lots of exciting events and had a ton of fun. Extra special shout-out to my partner in kite-making Nicola. She handles the glitter. I hate the glitter.
I want to thank the fantastic Waterstones booksellers, not only for voting for Blown Away but also for their enthusiasm and general loveliness whenever I’ve popped into a branch or met them at events. Melissa (the wife-rememberer I mentioned earlier) has also been incredibly supportive. She championed the book from the get-go and that really meant a lot. Also, we made our panel-event debuts together – hers as host, mine as guest. She was much better than me obv :/
Finally, I want to say how honoured I was to be shortlisted alongside such talented authors and illustrators. The five other books in my category are so incredible that any one of them would have been a worthy winner. It just so happened that this time it was my numbers that came up. I look forward to congratulating them all on the many awards that they will no doubt win in the future. Speaking of congratulations, well done to the other category winners Robin Stevens and Sally Green. Your books are amazing - I can’t wait to read them with my daughters.
Right, that’s it from me. I’m off to try and come back down to earth. Until then, here’s a few pics from the big night…