Even off the top of my distracted head after this exciting news, I can come up with three reasons why being a finalist is so important for me. First – it is wonderful to be listed in the company of some fine established names in NZ children’s books and with such talented and energetic newcomers. Second – a short listing is very significant for getting your name and work in front of schools and the general public. Third – this is the greatest treasure – it is a huge affirmation of my work for children. After 6 novels for adults as well as 2 for children some time ago now, working on The Travelling Restaurant was breaking into a new area on a whole new level. Writing it was a glorious romp. It’s a bonus to find that readers enjoy the fun, tears and magic of the adventure too.
I wanted to see if I’d have as much fun with a follow-up, but I wasn’t going to let it leave my hands unless it was a solid stand-alone book. The Queen and the Nobody Boy is set in the same world as The Travelling Restaurant a few years later. It was a challenge to kick the story into action as quickly as possible without getting trapped by the need for background. In the end I just booted the characters off into their own tale. Some characters are back again showing different sides of their personalities. There are new characters I’ve grown very fond of, and a villain I love to loathe.
I’m also excited at being asked to take part in the finalists’ tour organised by the NZ Book Council. It’s a treat to meet readers in person. I love reading aloud, and love the unusual questions children ask as well as how they react to unexpected answers.