I'm a little stunned today, because I just found
out that Phoenix
has been nominated for both the CILIP Carnegie Medal
for outstanding children's books, and the Kate Greenaway Medal
This is huge to me.
The Carnegie and Greenaway Medals are some of the biggest awards a book
can be nominated for – but more importantly, they're nominated by librarians,
and librarians are among the most important people in my world.
Because I write in libraries. I love libraries.
Phoenix would literally not exist without them.
You see, I'm not disciplined enough to work at home. I waste whole days looking at the
internet, having baths, etc.
But in a library, I don't mess around; I get down to work. It's quiet, and everyone else is working,
so I feel it's only right that I should too.
I can't claim that libraries shaped my childhood. My family was a migrant one; we came to Britain when I was two years old, and older members of my family never lost the sense that some things out there were "for the British, not for us". Among these were the NHS and public libraries; so sadly, we never used them.
Instead, I discovered libraries as an adult who
was finding it impossible to work at home, and losing my way as a result. Libraries saved me. They gave me a quiet space to work in,
with a nice big desk and lots of handy research material – and crucially,
Because once you decide that you work in a library, you can't put your
work off until midnight; the library isn't open at midnight. You've got to get it done during the
day. That really helps keep you
sane and disciplined when you're writing something that takes years.
I don't even talk to anyone when I go to the library. I just show up, do my work, and go home. I'm just another public library user, and I love that.
The most familiar faces for me are the librarians. They're unsung heroes, in our culture –
even more so in recent years, with all the cuts – but I see what they do, day
in, day out. They are brilliant.
They're the ones who create this amazing space where reading is valued,
where books are the most important things in the world. Can you imagine what that means to
someone whose whole life is focused on writing books? Librarians are total stars, as far as I'm concerned, and
without them my work would never get done.
So this is a massive thank you to all the libraries I've
written in, to all the librarians who created that space – and to whoever noticed Phoenix, and nominated it for these awards. It means more to me
than you can possibly imagine.