I promised in the run-up to the publication of Princess BMX, I’d tell you more about the book and the inspiration behind it. On that note, I’d like to share with you an interview I recently did for Words and Pictures, the SCBWI British Isles on-line magazine, about my debut journey.
Click on the link at the end of the page to find out more about my road to publication, my top tip for unpublished and unagented writers and to read the shocking revelation of how Princess BMX’s puppy Sir Jeffrey Bobbersons almost suffered death by microcorn.
A microcorn – I hear you say… Introducing Doreen!
Doreen the microcorn – a stumpy, mini unicorn – may be small but she has a big personality. And big teeth…they can munch their way through anything. She’s strong too. And clever, although her actions are usually more controlled by her stomach than her brain. With a bleat that can rival any goat and a tendency for headbutting, don’t expect Doreen to fade into the background.
And here’s the link to the Words and Pictures article. If you have any questions or comments about the article I’d love to hear them.
Excitement is rising in Camden and the magical Kingdom of Biscotti. I mean, like, oh my curly candy, it’s just one month exactly until Princess BMX makes her debut and shares her story with the world.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be telling you more about the inspiration behind the book and some of the characters that join Princess BMX on her adventures.
But first meet Ava, a radical new princess who splits her time between the skateparks of Camden, London and her home in the magical kingdom of Biscotti.
Trust her the fairy tales have it so wrong. Dingy towers and wicked step-mums are the least of this feisty princess’s worries: it’s the boredom that will kill her. A complete failure when it comes to meeting those princess expectations, Ava can’t seem to do anything right. Honestly, apart from the endless supply of cupcakes, being a princess is so rubbish, she used to think about locking herself in a tower and throwing away the key.
Thank the good goblin she discovered the potato sack. Because if she hadn’t been sliding down the stairs in a potato sack, she’d never have discovered BMX. And if it wasn’t for BMX, nothing would have changed …
If you’d like to know more about Ava’s boring old princess life in the magical Kingdom of Biscotti, you can read the first chapter of Princess BMX here. And if you’d like to learn more about Flavia Sorrentino, the fantastic illustrator who brought Ava to life, click here.
PRINCESS BMX is Enchanted meets BMX! A funny debut for ages 7+ that brings the fairy tale bang up to date – get ready for some extreme adventurous fun!
In this age of equality, are princess books still relevant? I stared at my Messenger Inbox, face contorted in such horror it would make Stephen King cry. What had I done to incite my friend Susan Brownrigg? Had I not liked her Tweets enough? Or maybe she was holding a grudge over something I’d said in a critique group back in 2017? Critique can do strange things to the mind.
But when I delved deeper, I realised Susan wasn’t spamming
me at all. Rather, she was presenting me with an opportunity. A chance to join
the Gender Equality
Collective’s* Twitter debate on the relevance of the princess in today’s
I won’t lie, I was a bit apprehensive joining in. My book
wasn’t even published yet and, according to these guys, it was already
potentially irrelevant. Plus, I’d just spent fifty quid on a Princess BMX
banner which if I say so myself is totally swag. Was I now going to have to bin
it along with the several thousand princess books my publisher Chicken House
were holding in a warehouse?
But my overactive writer mind had had me worrying for nothing. The Gender Collective guys didn’t make me cry once with their mean accusations. In fact, there were no accusations at all: no princess bashing, no debut author ambush or telling me to get on my bike, no drama whatsoever. (Which on some levels was slightly disappointing because – as you can tell – I’m currently digging the dramatic.) Instead, what did happen was rather awesome when these lovely peeps later listed Princess BMX in their Best Books List.
I’ll let the Gender Collective explain:
Welcome to GEC Best Books 2019, we’re glad you’re here. Compiled by our GEC Community of parents, teachers, authors (and kids!), here is our round up of the absolute best books out there for Smashing Stereotypes.
Turns out we were in agreement all along. While it’s most definitely time to move on from the traditional fairy tale trope of the helpless princess waiting for prince charming, there’s a new generation of princesses smashing stereotypes. And Princess BMX, the feisty funny girl who prefers to hang out on the half-pipe rather than go to the ball, is delighted to be among them.
*The Gender Equality Collective is a community of change which seeks to tackle gender imbalance and smash harmful stereotypes. Find out more and join me in signing their Gender Charter here.
I recently went along to the opening round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Manchester. Watching these world-class BMXers compete on my home ground was a real privilege. Such fun too. And seeing the athletes up close got me thinking again about how much we can learn from them. Here’s why we all need to be more like BMXers.
As an extreme sport, BMX racing obviously comes with its risks. The riders train hard in order to mitigate this, but they don’t let worrying about what can go wrong stop them.
I can’t imagine how the women waiting in the starting gate felt watching Saya Sakakibara lying flat on the floor unconscious after she came down in the first semi-final. Sure, they’ve seen this kind of thing before, but it had to be pretty off-putting watching her being stretchered off by the medics. Yet somehow they retained their focus. The buzzer sounded, the barrier crashed to the floor like a guillotine and they went for it.
They are no different from any of us who want to succeed. You have to put yourself out there and accept that failure might hurt – though for BMXers the pain can be physical as well as mental.
Saya will ride again. She may have had to sit out round two of the world championships, but she’s already talking about getting back on her bike. You don’t get to be five times world champion without an element of resilience. That’s the thing with BMXers, they keep trying. As the commentator repeatedly said, those who had not had a great day would refocus and be back on their bikes again in heat two. They’d cut their losses and get straight back in the saddle, hoping for better luck tomorrow.
Getting that Lucky
Because as much as BMX is about blood, sweat and tears, there’s also an element of luck involved, as Kye Whyte demonstrated when he crashed out of the semi finals, despite achieving the fastest time in the heats. Less than half an hour later, he was smiling again, supporting his team mates and signing autographs. A day later, he stormed the round two finals and took his first-ever world cup title.
Want to Know More?
Why we all need to be more like BMXers is one of the key themes of my schools and festival author talks. Linked to my own writing journey, this fun, interactive presentation focuses on the similarities between writers and BMXers, encouraging everyone to find the extreme sporting hero within.
Princess BMX now has a cover and I am so pleased with it. Illustrator Flavia Sorrentino has captured my feisty princess perfectly, and I love the whimsical nature of the cover design by Helen Crawford-White. Going to go away now and let the image speak for itself but you can find out more about Flavia and Helen by following the links above.
After sharing the news about my forthcoming debut novel, Princess BMX, I’d also like to share with you my author website. It’s still under development but it’s getting there – and there are some little-known facts that even those closest to me had no idea about.
Please take a look around and if you’d like to follow my publishing journey feel free to sign up to the blog for updates.
And yes, I really do go boggart hunting with my friend Zana the Brave.