Monday, April 02, 2012

The Waterstones Children's Book Award!!

So, no posts for weeks and weeks and then two come along at once...

That was a bit like last Wednesday evening, when 'The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists' was officially on general release, and Waterstones held their annual Children's Book Award at their flagship store in London's Piccadilly.

I was incredibly chuffed to be nominated for the Waterstone's Children's Book Award with 'The Pirates Next Door', but travelled down to London without any expectations. 'Picture Books' was a new category this year, and my second book had just been published, which just sneaked me in as new talent.

I've never been to an awards evening before, so I made an effort and put my suit on. With a tie. And freshly polished shoes. Pirates don't wear shoes very often but I'm glad I did this time....

The suit was a good call, because everyone looked smart and there were glasses of champagne and posh nibbles and it was all very busy in the 5th Floor champagne bar. I was incredibly nervous. My heart was all bumpity-bump, and I felt all hot. And then last year's winner, Sita Brahmachari, announced the winner of the Picture Book category and...... It was ME!!


I've never won anything before. I've come second in a couple of things, but I've never won anything, apart from a storyboard competition with some friends at school. So I was in a bit of a daze, and getting pats on my back from the the lovely folk from Templar and Arena, and spilling champagne all over my arm whilst trying to clap with an award and a champagne glass in one hand, when they announced the other category winners. Liz Pichon won the 5-12 category with 'The Brilliant World of Tom Gates' and Jenny Downham won the teen category with 'You Against Me'.

But I was completely gobsmacked when James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones, announced the overall winner, because.... that was ME too!

Double Eeeek!!!

I even had to say something in a microphone to everybody there. I think it was a succession of mumbles with something about not being very good at talking to 'grown-ups' at the beginning. I can't really remember, because I was utterly gobsmacked.

...With Amanda Wood, Templar's Creative Director who had to put up with me babbling on about new book ideas...

...With Mike Jolley (my wonderful Art Director) and Libby Hamilton (my lovely Editor) in a bit of a daze!

People took photos, while I stood around looking hot and a bit befuddled with an award in each hand, mostly relieved that I hadn't worn my pirate outfit. And then I was whisked away to speak to a nice lady from the Guardian.

I now have two lovely trophies on the mantlepiece. Daisy likes to polish them, and Rosie likes to cover them in mucky fingerprints. I keep looking at them, a bit gobsmacked. I was in some national newspapers, there were photos of my gurning online, and apparently the 'Pirates Next Door' has had a spike in sales. I was waffling on the Good Evening Wales radio show on Friday night (I'm at 54 minutes and 27 seconds on iPlayer!), I'm on Radio Ulster's Art programme tonight, and BBC Wales are coming to my house with a TV camera tomorrow.

So a HUGE thank you to all the booksellers at Waterstones who voted for 'The Pirates Next Door', and to everybody at Templar who saw something in my ideas and published my first two books.

Like I said in my last post, it's been a bonkers couple of weeks...
Bonkers! Ooo-ARR!

What a bonkers couple of weeks.... I've been to a movie premiere, another premiere-type-thing for the same movie, a book award night, and then I did a Q&A at a London cinema and tried to talk about interesting things about being a character designer. Until last Wednesday, I'd only left the village three times since Christmas.

It all started on 21st March, with a very swanky premiere for 'The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists!' at the May Fair Hotel in a swanky bit of London.

We were given swanky individual bottles of champagne (with straws) on the way in, which was the start of a swanky evening with a little too much in the way of bubbles. I travelled down to London on my own, by train, but Aardman had sent a coach load of folk, so it was lovely to see lots of friends from the studio. Peter Lord introduced Gideon Defoe on stage, who wrote the book the film is based on, and then introduced David Tennant and Hugh Grant. And then the film started with no adverts! Brilliant! No boring adverts! Hoorah!

And the film was really, really, reeeeaaaally good! Although I spent most of the time looking at the character designs and wondering what I could've done differently. And then when the credits rolled, my name was right near the beginning, which was rather good too. And on the way out of the theatre, I chatted to Peter Lord on the way down the steps, and then briefly met Terry Gilliam, one of my all time heroes, when he came to shake Pete's hand, and then asked Bill Bailey where the toilets were. Then I bumped into Pixie Lott by the bar, Not 'bumped' in a cool, sophisticated way, but more 'bumped' in a too-many-posh-drinks-for-a-northern-bloke-not-looking-where-I-was-going kind of way. Hobnobbing or what??

It was all far too exciting. And then I drank far too many glasses of champagne at the party (they just kept topping up everyone's glasses!!) and spent an hour-and-a-half trying to find the way back to my hotel, using 'maps' on my iPhone. It only took twenty minutes to walk to the premiere, so I've no idea which route I took back. I woke up with a fuzzy head, and somehow caught a train back to Wales.

On Sunday, I took my wife and eldest daughter to the movie's Bristol Premiere, where everybody who had worked on the movie brought along friends and family and there were lots of screenings, tattoos, face-painting, and pirate-themed balloons. It was a late night for Daisy, but we had a lovely time, and I actually enjoyed the film more, because I just watched it without worrying about my designs. Me and Daisy both dressed the part, and Daisy had Cutlass Liz painted on her cheek for the rest of the week.
We were back home on Monday, and the on Wednesday I was off to London again for the Waterstones' Children's Book Awards at Waterstones Piccadilly. More of that in a minute, but the whole evening turned out rather well.......

I was back home on Thursday, but off to London again on Friday morning for Arena's showing of 'The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists!' at the Stratford Picture House, followed by a Q&A with me. It was quite nerve-wracking, but the audience were all very polite and asked nice questions and Tamlyn from Arena made sure I was suitably lubricated with rum for the event.

We got back home on Saturday and I feel a bit overwhelmed. What a bonkers couple of weeks. It's back to normality now, and more importantly, back to the drawing board to get stuck into 'The King of Space'.

Phew.... Colouring in.... :)