Wednesday, 10 May 2017

My Publishing Journey ... by Justine Windsor.

By Gillian Hamer.

Justine Windsor is a debut author - her first novel Goodly & Grave In A Bad Case of Kidnap has received huge praise since its release. Justine has been shortlisted and won various new writers awards including the Times/Chicken House children’s writers prize and the Children’s Book of the Year. She lives and works in London.

Synopsis for Goodly & Grave In a Bad Case of Kidnap: An archly funny, classic mystery adventure with a magic twist! Lucy Goodly is the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. The other staff Vonk the Butler, Mrs Crawley the cook and Violet the scullery maid all seem friendly but Lucy soon notices that strange things are afoot in her new home and not just Mrs Crawley’s experimental anchovy omelettes. There are moving statues, magical books and Lord Grave has a secret. Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing. Could the mystery of the missing children be linked to the strange goings-on? Lucy is determined to find out

What’s your first writing memory?
Writing a story about a runaway dragon! I illustrated it too. I still have it.

What was the first novel you wrote?
Charlie Squires Goes Elsewhere.  

Was writing only a hobby for you to begin with?
I’d always wanted to write a book, but although I tried over the years, I couldn’t manage it because I didn’t really know what it was I wanted to write. Then I heard about this slightly successful children’s author, J K Rowling, you may have heard of her? As soon as I read Harry Potter everything fell into place as I realised writing for children would let me set my imagination free and have fun. It took me a while to work up the confidence to begin, but from the very moment I started, that was it. I knew this was what I wanted to do more than anything else. So it was never a hobby for me – I always wanted to be published..

You’ve had a long journey to reach your current success, can you tell us some of the highs and lows?
I am really lucky to have lots of highs! Charlie Squires being shortlisted by Barry Cunningham for the Times/Chicken House competition. Although it didn’t win, the shortlisting gave me the confidence to believe I wasn’t wasting my time completely. Meeting my brilliant agent Kate Shaw. I had offers from three agents, but as soon as I met Kate I knew she was the one. Signing a three book deal with Harper Collins following a hotly contested four way audition. And of course, the publication of Goodly and Grave in a Bad Case of Kidnap.
The lows – rejections and disappointments. I’ve had lots and lots of those. I’m sure there will be more in the future, it’s inevitable in this business.

Did you ever think about giving up?
Maybe occasionally for a few hours, but never seriously.

How did it feel when you were able to finish your ‘real’ job and become a full time writer?
Very, very surreal. It was only three months ago so it all seems very new and I am still finding my feet as a full-time writer. I also wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and think #ohmygodwhathaveIdone?

What has been your proudest career moment to date?
Reading the reviews Kidnap has received from children on the Lovereading4kids website.

Are there any mistakes you wish, in hindsight, you had avoided?
I made lots of mistakes along the way, but nothing earth shattering! I expect to make lots more mistakes in the future too.

Can you give tips to up and coming authors at the start of their career?
As I’m still at the beginning of my own career I’m not sure I can say anything more that read, read, read, write, write, write. Finish what you start and get it out there, whether that’s by submitting in the traditional way or self-publishing. Then forget about it and start on a new project.

What do you know now you wish you’d known at the start of your publishing journey?
That it’s a waste of time to compare your success (or lack of it!) with that of other writers. Everybody’s journey is different.

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