Shortlistee to finished book: Lisa Drakeford and THE BABY

Posted by Jazz on Thursday July 9th, 2015

Lisa Drakeford was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition in 2014. One year later, we've published her shortlisted novel, The Baby, and the incredible reviews have been flooding in. Here, Lisa shares her experience of being published ...

I was encouraged to enter the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition by my mentor Maxine Linnell. I do everything she says (she’s a goddess) and promptly forgot about it. So I was flabbergasted and thrilled to get a phone call from Barry Cunningham one Thursday evening to hear I’d been longlisted down to the last twelve. Then, a month later, even more excited to hear that I’d got down to the last five. I didn’t expect to win – the other four looked fantastic – and besides, I never win anything. So it came as no surprise to get the phone call on another Thursday evening to hear that I hadn’t won. But I was in total shock to hear that THEY STILL WANTED TO PUBLISH IT!

I went down to London to meet Barry and Rachel in some swanky gentleman’s club which had my eyes on stalks. We discussed the offer and I was sold there and then. There was no way I was saying no. There followed the best, most informatively steep learning curve that a newbie writer could ever experience. The editing process was sublime. Rachel Leyshon is a fierce, funny and incredibly knowledgeable editor. The proposed changes came thick and fast and I had a job keeping up – but I knew which side my bread was buttered and I put my all into everything suggested.

The final version of The Baby is very different to the one first submitted almost a year earlier, but it’s one I’m incredibly proud of and a version I know stands a better chance of success. The changes were always agreed and the Chicken House editors were continually at pains to ensure that I still felt the book was mine.

I did and I still do.

Today I went to a town three counties away from where I live. I went into WH Smith where I found my book displayed proudly amongst some spectacular others. I cannot begin to describe the thrills which rocked my whole body as I stared and stared and stared.

Two years after submitting and then promptly forgetting, I have a sparkly new book which sits in book shops. My mind is properly blown.

Thank you, Chicken House. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Follow Lisa Drakeford on Twitter: @lisadrakeford

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