Hello, hello, hello Dear Readers! I'm back from the Lancashire Book of the Year Awards in Preston and wow - I had the best time EVER. There were a series of events over the weekend including a panel with local children, a dinner, and then the actual presentation ceremony, and despite slight collywobbles from me about all the public speaking involved, I think this was probably one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences of my career so far.
I met legendary children's and YA author Adele Geras who is a fascinating, intimidatingly well-read lady, wickedly funny and completely invested in encouraging young people to read and value books. I loved her books as a kid (still love them, really) so I managed to get a place near her at both breakfast and lunch on the Saturday and probably talked her ear off, along with this brilliant university professor Helen (I realised later that I never got her last name - gah!) who teaches an MA course in Children's and YA literature at UCLAN. If I could have gotten away with it, I'd have rolled them both up, hidden them in my bag, and taken them home with me. Our discussions were epic.
I also met the award winner Chris Higgins, who was lovely, and nearly got into a scrap with fellow shortlisters Cliff McNish and Mike Lancaster over romance in YA novels and why men don't write more of it (a friendly scrap! And the kids at the panel found it highly amusing). And to top it all of, I got a delightful visit from Keris Stainton, who was at the awards last year, and who came to the lunch on the Friday with her son Harry. It was wonderful to meet her at last!
Of course, the most amazing thing of all was the ridiculous quantities of hard work that had gone into making all this happen by the ladies from the library service - including Big Boss Heather and the two ladies known as 'The Allisons', and lovely Jake and Sandra, and many more - and the young people who'd ploughed through all these books and spoke so passionately about their favourites. Huge thank yous and hugs to all! Everything was so joyful that I think I'll be crossing my fingers constantly from now on that one of my books manages to get shortlisted again at some point.
But now onto the point of today's post, which is...THIS:
THAT'S RIGHT DEAR READERS! Those of you who live in, around, or within a reasonable distance of London have finally got the chance to come and meet me! Which means I finally have the chance to meet you!
That's an amazing line-up of authors right there - you already know I love Kaz Mahoney and Lee Weatherly (both as luverly people and as writers) because I've interviewed them right here and given away copies of their books. I also know Michelle Harrison from Twitter and she's funny and adorable. We'll be having a panel discussion about books, writing and reading, signing books and (in my case anyway) giving away special presents and swag. I can't tell you how excited I am about this - and I want my Dear Readers there so much, you guys. If any of you can make it you will literally make my day.
The way to reserve tickets for the event is to email this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Now from the response on Twitter yesterday when I announced this the tickets may be going fast, so please get in there as soon as you can. I really, really, REALLY want some of you to be there!
*Flails some more*
See you again on Friday!