Branford Boase Award Longlist

The Girl of Ink & Stars has been long listed for the Branford Boase Award! This is an especially special award, because it’s not only me acknowledged, but my editor too. Rachel Leyshon nurtured GOI&S through five (of a total of ten) enormous re-drafts, putting up with my cycle of rejecting her suggestions, before trying them and sheepishly emailing to say ‘That works much better actually’. It’s because of her it’s in the first person, and her and Barry Cunningham that Lupe has such a central role – plus Miss La was bulked out their insistence! In short, my book would not and could not have been what it is without her, and it’s lovely to be up for an award that values that.

Chicken House has three books up for the prize: James Nicol (ed Kesia Lupo) for his beautiful tale, The Apprentice Witch, MG Leonard (ed Rachel L and Barry C), for her bug-tastic success Beetle Boy, and me (ed Rachel L)! Plus my wonderful agent Hellie has three authors in the running: Amber Lee Dodd for We Are Giants, Nat Luurtsema for Girl Out of Water, and me. Full list and more details here.

Sheffield Children’s Book Award 2017

Overjoyed The Girl of Ink & Stars has been shortlisted for the Sheffield Children’s Book Award, in the ‘Longer novels & YA’ category!


Sheffield is one of my favourite cities and I’m so pleased to be considered in such amazing company. Sarah Alexander is my agency-sister at Janklow & Nesbit UK, so I’m especially proud to be alongside her! More info when I have it…

Waterstones Children’s Prize Shortlist

The Girl of Ink & Stars has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize!

The other shortlisted titles in the Younger Fiction category are Beetle Boy by fellow Chicken House author (and friend) MG Leonard, Cogheart by Peter Bunzl, Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford, Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, and Captain Pug by Laura James. I’ve read and adored all but the last, which I intend to read ASAP – it’s an honour to be considered alongside them!

I love what the Waterstones announcement said about books offering optimism:

The worlds of fantasy too offer their conflicts, as Kiran Millwood-Hargrave – also seeing print for the first time – offers us the rich allegories of a young girl fighting for truth against oppression in The Girl of Ink and Stars. So many books in our chosen eighteen mirror much of what we see beyond our doors. For our Children’s Buyer Florentyna Martin, “whilst reading has always encouraged an element of escapism, this year’s shortlists provide a guiding light of optimism in the face of uncertain times… we’re delighted to celebrate these inspiring books.”

Full announcement here.

Waterstones have been incredibly supportive, as they are renowned for being towards debut authors. It’s lovely to have this public affirmation of their belief in the book. Between this and the Jhalak Prize shortlist yesterday, I may just burst. This is surely the best part of being considered by a prize: when you have been recognised by the judges, and all the possibility is ahead.

Jhalak Prize Shortlist

Here’s some news I never thought I’d be able to write about, because I imagined the chances of it happening were too small to consider – The Girl of Ink & Stars has made it onto the Jhalak Prize shortlist, from a long-list of eleven incredible books. It is the only children’s book on the list, and I feel so grateful and proud to be flying the kids’ lit flag amongst such company. Here are the books in the running:

I’ve read all but David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History, and Jacob Ross’ The Bone Readers, which I intend to buy, borrow or steal as soon as possible. The shortlist has been covered by The Bookseller and The Guardian so far, and from these articles I’ve gleaned some of the lovely things the judges have said…just never read the comments.

For a prize with such hopeful and positive aims, it’s been a depressingly contentious process so far – I personally found Khorsandi’s decision to withdraw because her book is not about ‘ethnic issues’ – nor is mine – bewildering (great blog about it here) – and there have been gleeful accounts of how low the submission numbers were (51 the week before deadline, though this then more than tripled). The latter is surely an inditement of how much we need such a prize, that so few books fall into the criteria.

All prizes have selection criteria: in a way this one is less restrictive as it accepts all genres, from non-fiction to science writing, kids’ lit to short stories. In my view, the Jhalak Prize is surely a wholly wonderful thing: it aims to raise up the voices of writers of colour, whatever they choose to write about it. I am incredibly proud to be part of it.