I think I’m a novelist, who writes adventure books like First Aid for Fairies, Rocking Horse War and Maze Running.
I know I write a few other books once in a wee while, like the occasional picture book when I need a break from ambushes, and sometimes I gather together collections of my favourite myths and legends.
But mainly, I’m a novelist. Yes?
Well, maybe not.
I won an award last week, when Orange Juice Peas (written by me, illustrated by Lizzie Wells) won the Dundee Picture Book Award, which is voted for by local P1s and by the P6s who read the books to them. The other shortlisted authors were proper picture book writers, all of whom travelled up from the south of England to be in Dundee. It was a real award ceremony, for real picture books.
And my book won.
Just like The Big Bottom Hunt won the Hawick Picture Book Award a couple of years ago…
So perhaps I’m a proper picture book writer as well.
Perhaps I need to take being a picture book writer just as seriously as I take being a novelist (though I’ll still spend at least year on each novel and a few weeks on each picture book – the number of words just work that way!)
But of course, I won’t take being a picture book writer TOO seriously – picture books work better when they aren’t serious at all!
And it’s not just picture books which are muscling in on my novels. I have six books coming out this year. One of those six is a picture book (it’s called The Magic Word and I’m so pleased with Claire Keay’s lovely pictures, I think it’s going to be … magic!) and five are retellings of traditional tales. I have two retellings of animal tales coming out in short chapter books (Masha And The Bear and The Hungry Wolf, both illustrated by the wonderful Melanie Williamson, who also did Never Trust a Tiger and The Tortoise’s Gift) and three collections of myths and legends: a collection of heroine tales, a collection of Scottish stories and a collection of winter tales.
So am I now a reteller of old tales, as well as a novelist and a picture book writer?
Yes I am, and that’s fine too – because I love these stories, which are one of the main inspirations for the fiction I write, and it’s wonderful to be able to share them.
But don’t worry, I haven’t become any of these other kinds of writers INSTEAD of being a writer of adventures. I’ve just finished one novel and started another, and the oddities of publishing timetables means both novels might be published next year.
But in the meantime, I will enjoy the fact that I have the freedom and opportunity to write all sorts of books, and to be passionately proud of every single one of them.
And here, if you want to see just how seriously I take picture books, is me making a real mess of my kitchen while reading Orange Juice Peas: