The Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition: One Year On

Posted by Jazz on Thursday April 2nd, 2015

Kerr Thomson, the 2014 Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition winner, shares his experience of being published ...

Now that THE SOUND OF WHALES has been published (and it's a beautiful book!), it is somewhat strange to think back to July last year, when the sun dazzled disconcertingly in the Glasgow sky, the sporting festival of the Commonwealth Games was magnificently staged, and I was sitting in a dark corner of a local library rewriting large chunks of the thing. Such a shame, you cry - but no, I was loving every second of it. I was a writer!

This is perhaps the greatest pleasure in winning the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition: the validation you get that your writing has merit and the encouragement you receive to keep at it. It also helps that there is an end product to all your labours - and when you first hold the finished book a tingle travels from your fingertips all the way to your face where it erupts as an embarrassingly cheesy smile. That was me a couple of weeks ago.

But getting to the finished book is a long and, at times, painful job. I could tell you of man called Ishmael. He was a nice guy, an interesting chap and he's dead now. I killed him. Not literally, just literarily! Ishmael was a character in the book who never made the final cut. Editing can be brutal; people go, places go, clever bits of writing that took hours to craft are snipped in a second. But you trust your editor because editors know best. And in the end the finished book bears only a passing resemblance to the one that won ... but is a million times better!

A year on from winning, and now that the book is published, the thrills just get more thrilling, the wonders more wonderful. If there's a finished manuscript lying in a drawer somewhere it is time to dust it down and fire it off for next year's competition. If it happened to me it can happen to you!

The 2016 competition is now open! Click here for details on how to enter.

Follow Kerr Thomson on Twitter: @kerr_thomson

Follow Chicken House on Twitter: @chickenhsebooks

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