Super excited to welcome debut author Justin Davies to My Book Corner. He’s had a VERY exciting journey to publication, and shares some fabulous writing tips…
Justin, tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I’m a Scottish-based, semi-Welsh, gay Europhile, flying around the world as cabin crew whilst on my mission to find the funny and make kids laugh.
Help! I Smell A Monster, your debut book, has just been released. How did it come to be?
Take a seat…it’s a long story! The book started life as a weekly serial posted online. Only the core idea – of an employment agency for monsters – and one character have survived its many transformations and regeneration. Eventually, having shifted the action to Scotland (after I shifted with my husband to Scotland), the book was shortlisted for the 2015 Kelpies Prize. There followed multiple agent rejections before I entered The Hook at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 2016 conference – where I live-pitched the book to a panel of agents and hundreds of delegates. My prize for winning was a 1-1 with the agent of my choice. I chose Thérèse Coen, who subsequently offered representation! A two-book deal followed swiftly and almost two years after that… ta dah!
Where is your favourite place to create?
I mostly write at home in a spare room which I quickly commandeered on moving in! I’m lucky to have an amazing view from my window: the iconic, russet-red, Victorian Forth Bridge. Trains rumble over the bridge, whilst gulls and oyster catchers squabble in the harbor beneath it; they are a necessary distraction to the paper-strewn, book tower-teetering chaos surrounding me.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
Ah yes…my Jenga tower of books. I’m a literary – and literal – book magpie. Next up, in no particular order are: The Boy at the Back of the Class (Onjali Q Raúf); The Twisted Tree (Rachel Burge); Put Out More Flags (Evelyn Waugh); How to Train Your Dragon; and a book on European Politics by Yanis Varoufakis. They say you should read widely…
What’s your worst habit?
Pouring a second cup of tea and not drinking it. This never happens when I pour a second gin.
The strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
“What football team do you support?” I mean…really! As if!
Your favourite word(s) and why
In English: Hippopotamus.
In French: Pamplemousse (grapefruit).
Because I think they sound fabulous.
What are your top tips for budding children’s book authors?
Grab every opportunity that comes your way because you never know where it might lead.
Don’t fret too much about word count – especially in the early stages; just get the words out of your head and onto the screen or paper.
Rejections are essential stepping stones as you navigate your way across the choppy waters of publication; there’s something to be learnt from every one of them.
And read. Then read some more. It’s as important as writing.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
The next book in the series is almost finished. In Whoa! I Spy a Werewolf expect more monsters, more laughs, and more sequins than stitched onto a drag queen’s ball gown.
Did we forget anything?
Yes…the cake! (Chocolate with double chocolate butter cream icing. Thanks!)
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Both, depending on my mood.
Seaside or countryside? Seaside.
Paper books or e-books? Paper.
Cake or chocolate? See above.
Write or type? Type. It’s a miracle I made it through school with my handwriting.
Poetry or prose? Poetical prose delights me.
Hot or cold? Cold. I’m never happier than when I’m wearing a knitted tank top.
Read My Book Corner’s review of Help! I Smell A Monster