story, science, technology and creativity

The new writer’s roller coaster

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Wow. As I type this, the awards ceremony for the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Book Award is just two days away.

I’ve known for nearly three weeks that Takeshita Demons will be announced the winner, but it has yet to truly sink in. Did I really get that phone call? Did I really hear correctly? The day the phone call came started out quite ordinarily: I was sitting at my computer, tapping away at the keyboard as part of my day job (doing comms for an e-science project). The London sun was shining (for once), and I was conscious of sharing the office with my two-days-new colleague (and maternity leave replacement) Manisha. Then my ancient mobile began to ring. Since then it’s been a roller coaster.

The call came from Helena of children’s book centre Seven Stories, partners in the award. In the background listening in was gun publicist Nicky Potter (who also does publicity for the Children’s Laureate: awesome!), but I didn’t know that yet. Helena introduced herself and dropped the bombshell, saying simply “You’ve won”. I (pleasantly) said “Are you sure?” and followed it up with the equally trusting “Are you joking?” But apparently, yes, she was sure, and no, she wasn’t joking. Wow.

My head began to spin (pregnancy: your blood pressure is a mess) and I had to sit down (apparently at some point in the call I’d decided to stand up and pace; no recollection of this). New colleague Manisha was laughing at me as I gulped and gagged at the phone (no, I do not usually win book awards in a usual working day J). I had to swear her to secrecy: not a word until the announcement. Wow.

They liked my book.
They were interested in publishing.
I’d won an award.Could I travel to Newcastle on April 30 to accept the prize, meet the judges and try not to stand gob-smacked and grinning like a lunatic all night long?
Yes, yes, yes.

So here I am, two sleeps away. So far I’ve met Nicky for coffee, chatted to journalist Geraldine Brennan to put together a Q&A, lined up some interviews (c/o Nicky), and enjoyed a clandestine meeting with some of the Frances Lincoln team at the London Book Fair (I totally recommend the LBF seminars for anyone interested in writing for children: everything from cover design and market trends to writing for teens and international children’s literature. A fabulous and inspiring day out).

And alongside this secret double-life, “real” life trundles on: just three more weeks at work. Planning for lovely guests over the weekend. And Doug and I have just bought a cot, something called a “cuddlewrap”, and enough muslin squares to mop a thousand baby spews. Even real life seems a bit surreal at the moment.

Back in touch with more soon!


Author: cristyburne


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