Publication Week is finally here!
If you had told me five, ten or even fifteen years ago that I would be celebrating the publication of my debut children’s book this week, I might have laughed slightly maniacally, or possibly cried. Either way, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. That daydream of walking into a bookshop and seeing my own book has been a regular distraction for me over the last twenty years at least.
And, now, even though it’s actually happening, I still don’t quite believe it!
Monster Doughnuts isn’t the first book I’ve written. It’s probably the fifth or sixth (not counting the numerous random chapters and half-a-manuscripts I have littered across my desktop). Over twenty or so years of working full-time, bringing up my lovely son and daughter and doing life in general, I wrote lots of things, some of which I submitted to literary agents, many of which I didn’t. I had some interest but never quite got over the line of being signed up.
It would have been very easy to give up. After all, I’d tried, hadn’t I? But, while each knock back was a bit of a kick in the teeth, it was also a huge push to carry on trying. I never wanted to look back and wish I had tried just a little bit harder.
Monster Doughnuts started with one character, thought up by my then seven-year-old daughter. A ruthless, people-eating, doughnut-loving, board game-playing cyclops, called Mr Harris. The more we talked about Mr Harris, the more a story developed around him. He was clearly the antagonist in the story so a fabulous protagonist was needed, which is when Grace appeared. Brave, feisty and kind, she’s based on my daughter, which is fitting given that this book wouldn’t exist without her.
A couple of months later and I had the first draft of Monster Doughnuts.
I knew that it was different to the stories I had written before. It had been conceived, in its rawest sense, in the imagination of a child. I wondered, if this couldn’t push me over the line, whether anything could.
When Rachel Mann from the Jo Unwin Literary Agency signed me up in February 2019, I felt like I was walking on air. I will never forget that day in London, walking to her office to meet her. So nervous, so full of hope and so, so excited. We clicked immediately and I knew, there and then, that there was nobody else I would want to represent me and my funny little book.
In October that same year, I signed a three-book deal with Piccadilly Press, part of Bonnier. Another day I will never forget is the day I went, with Rachel, to meet the team. From the moment I stepped into the meeting room, I knew I had found the right home for Grace, Mr Harris and their family, friends and monsters. The extraordinary efforts they had made with cakes, maps of London and secret monster files made me believe I had written something worth reading, and I travelled home on the train in a surreal glow of happiness and belonging.
So, believe me when I say this week is more than a dream come true. It’s a part of me. A part that I will continue to nurture with excitement, passion and love, in the hope that I keep developing as a writer and continue being able to write stories that put a smile on children’s faces.
If you are me a few years ago, wondering if it’ll ever happen, not sure if you’ll ever see your story on a shelf in a bookshop – keep going. It’s all about perseverance and determination and, above all, believing in yourself and who you know you’re meant to be.
It’s a journey. So, put on your walking boots, set foot on that bumpy path and enjoy every single moment.