At the end of last week the Kelpies Prize winners of 2019 were announced up in Edinburgh. I say winners because this year there was a change of format to the prize. This year the Floris team were asking for samples of work from illustrators and writers rather than a completed manuscript or book cover design. There were two prizes on offer, one for an illustrator and one for a writer, winning mentoring and a publishing contract. It’s a really exciting prize and it shows how committed Floris are to nurturing home grown talent in Scotland. Congratulations to Aimee Ferrier who won the illustration prize, and to Christopher Mackie, who won the writing prize. And a huge, warm round of applause for all the shortlisted illustrators and writers too. You can read about the shortlist here.
It looked like a great party so I was sad to not be able to make it up to join in the celebrations. Instead I followed the ceremony via pictures and messages being posted on social media. It doesn’t feel like a year since I was up there receiving my award. In lots of ways it feels longer and in other ways it feels like only yesterday! The editing process over the last year has taught me so much and I am really enjoying having the amazing team at Floris working with me to make this book the best it can be. You should see the front cover! While the experience has been overwhelmingly good, there are lots of impossible-to-answer-questions that float around in my head. Publishing is a precarious business and there are no guarantees. No matter how marvelous this book turns out to be, it may not sell. It may be the only published book I ever have to my name. When I hear people use the phrase ‘debut novel’ I wonder how they know. How do they know it’s their debut, and not their one and only book? On good days it’s easy to be philosophical about it, after all, it’s still a published book right? But on grey days, such thoughts don’t do much for my sense of self. Uncertainty means I’m straddling multiple worlds: being a mum; paying the bills with nursing; carving out time and space to write; and getting all the laundry done. Something that perks me up is the thought of going out meeting children and talking to them about reading and books when this book launches, which seems pretty wonderful to me. I already have lots of ideas for activities and topics for school visits and book events, BUT what if no one wants me to come?! Or what if they want me to come when I’m in one of my other worlds, dressing a leg ulcer or taking the kids to school, and I can’t come?
“Triumph and Disaster,” quotes my dad from the Rudyard Kipling poem, If. “Treat those two imposters just the same.” He’s right but it doesn’t help. Roll on next year’s Kelpies Prize ceremony, I say, when, no matter what happens over the next year, I intend to toast the next lot of winners with the largest glass of fizz I can find