Thank you Scribblers! I am delighted to have been chosen as the winner of PeerPitch 1st250—another outstanding competition from the Kings and Queens of feedback. In my humble opinion there is no greater prize for a novice writer (or probably, an experienced one for that matter) and in that capacity, the Scribblers just keep on giving.

And not just them—Peerpitch creates a community of support, an environment of giving, an opportunity to help, and be helped. The competitions are free—in the case of 1st 250 there was an entry requirement to provide feedback for fellow entrants. But since we also learn by critiquing others, this was another win-win. On top of that, the chance of having your work seen by industry professionals, authors and literary agents. Does it get any better than that?

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I began writing Milton a year ago after a crazy idea popped into my head (as they do) about a group of elderly animals around a Serengeti waterhole, reminiscing on the glory days when they were on Attenborough. I began to wonder what it would be like for an ingénue animal, just beginning a career in the spotlight. With all the constant exposure, intrusion and perfection that today’s media demands. I wondered, what about animals that they have unintentionally found fame, for example on YouTube, or in the case of Milton, as the victim of unwanted tabloid attention.

Of course, I soon realised that I was actually thinking about the challenges my own children will face as they become pulled into the world of social media, smart phones and internet access. According to Ofcom’s latest study of Media Attitudes, 79% of five to 7 year olds use the internet for around nine hours per week, 71% use YouTube. Of eight to eleven year olds, 39% have their own smartphone, and 23% have a social media profile.

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The second and third books in the series will continue the theme of the challenges of celebrity status. My Name is Mermaid features a socially awkward house cat who is bullied by the neighbourhood cats after his face appears on missing posters; and The Face of the Rainforest, starring a bush baby, chosen to represent the Central African forest in an ad campaign, whose best friend choses fame over loyalty. After that, owls on Youtube? Crocodiles on SnapChat (geddit?), suggestions on a postcard …

Hopefully Milton will find the right sort of success though, and be happy to be famous for a change—despite being tiny, he and his friends do get a hard time in the press. (Arachnophobes look away now.)

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And finally, a little about myself (although, this is why I write stories about made-up characters … so I don’t have to talk about myself.)

Originally from East Anglia, I’m now a Westie, lucky enough to reside in the fair city of Bath. For many years I was a scientist, managing a laboratory near Bristol, now, with my transferable skills of attention to detail, patience and accuracy, I mainly sew on cubs badges and pick up lego.

My favourite authors are Brett Easton Ellis (I know—somewhat inconsistent for a #kidlit writer), Richard Adams, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Roald Dahl.

I like: not having to cook, Buck Rodgers, hats, my family (this list is not in any particular order btw, since I’ve just listed hats above my kids K), deserts, desserts, foxes and Death on the Nile.

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And the most excellent writing group there is.

 

Without whom I would never have got this far.

 

You know who you are.

 

#TWP Rules

 

I also write YA and am busy editing (with a little help from those awesome potty-mouths over at https://writershq.co.uk/ my medieval Twin Peaks for teens: The Boy of Orion, currently longlisted for the Flash500 Novel Award. If you’d like to read one of my YA short stories head over to: http://www.shiftthezine.co.uk/?p=519 (another PeerPitch success!)

Which leaves me to say one final thank you to the Scribblers and to the amazingly generous Judges- Jo Gatford, Sarah Lewis, Laura West and Chloe Seager.

Look out for more PeerPitch competions in 2018 and…

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Merry Christmas!