Passing the Crown
Laurel Remington won the 2015 Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition with The Secret Cooking Club, which will be published by Chicken House in August 2016. Here she tells us what her publishing journey has been like, and her advice for the final five.
I felt a little choked up when I saw the shortlist for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2016 (no surprise, since I broke down in tears when I won!). I want to congratulate all the shortlistees and assure you that win or lose, it’s a fantastic achievement. I honestly don’t know how the judges choose – all of the shortlisted works sound so fresh and original. But choose one they will, and I’ll be happy to ‘pass the crown’.
It’s been a fantastic year for me – a journey from struggling writer to published author. Winning the competition has been a life-changer in many ways. For one thing, I’ve grown a lot as a writer. I’ve become more confident in my own voice, and also technically better from going through the editing process. I’ve become more attuned to what needs to go into a manuscript to get it ‘over the line’ – taking on board feedback, making decisions, and ultimately, living with one final result. That last one isn’t easy. I’m just going through my final proof now, and realising that there’s no delete key once the book is published. Like a child leaving the nest, it’s kind of hard to let go ...
My advice to the shortlistees is to take advantage of this moment that you’ve worked so hard for. According to Chicken House, 51% of shortlistees have gone on to be published. That’s a very powerful statistic when you think of how many talented writers there are out there who waiting for that magic moment of their book landing on the right desk and getting taken on by a publisher. You’ve already made it to the top of the pile of thousands of entries. Your time is now.
And to anyone who entered the competition and didn’t make the list – don’t give up! I entered the contest in prior years before ever making the shortlist, let alone winning. It can happen for you – but only if you keep going. As a parent, I feel very lucky that there are so many wonderful books being published for children and young adults these days. The Times/Chicken House competition, and everyone who enters it, helps to ensure that children are blessed with fresh, relevant books that fuel their imaginations. And isn’t that what writing for children is all about?
Follow Laurel Remington on Twitter: @laurelremington