At my book launch, I was going to do a speech. I would probably have been quite shy about it, but I was determined to do one because this book wasn’t just put together by me. It took a village – a city, even – to turn it into what’s now on the shelves. But, as my launch party now cannot happen, I’m going to do my speech here, instead.
The first person I need to thank is my agent, Claire Wilson. Claire has been my mentor, cheerleader, therapist and knight in shining armour since long before The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was a twinkle in my eye. It was Claire who encouraged me to finish writing it, after I gave her what was probably one of her more interesting pitches down the phone (if anyone is wondering, I did my best impression of That Voice You Hear On Movie Trailers). It was Claire who submitted it to publishers, and who rang me up to tell me I was going to be an author. I was stood in King’s Cross at the time, outside Platform 9 ¾, and I can only imagine what all the tourists thought to this strange person becoming increasingly hysterical outside the Harry Potter shop. Claire is the best agent I could ever have wished for, and I’ll never stop being grateful for everything she’s done, and everything she does.
Authors are lucky if they get a good editor to work with, but I had two! Samantha Swinnerton was the editor who bought the book in the first place, and then she and Lena McCauley were the team that helped thrash it into shape. They got The Strangeworlds Travel Agency open for business, and made it what it is today. Lena, I am thrilled I get to work with you on The Edge of the Ocean as well - the travel agency would be nothing without all your hard work, and I’m so happy to be part of your team!
And speaking of teams, being part of Hachette Children’s Group is incredible. I want to give a special THANK YOU to the Rights team, who have granted Flick her wish to see the world, and sent her and Jonathan around the globe to find readers in many different languages. To Dominic Kingston, how did I get so lucky with such an amazing publicist? I don’t know when you rest, but I hope you manage to soon! Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and Strangeworlds. Beth McWilliams, marketing superhero, thank you for leaping to the challenge when the world tipped upside down like it has – I’m forever grateful.
Everyone judges a book by its cover, so to have a cover that is so beautiful and enticing is a real thrill. Thank you Samuel Perrett and Natalie Smillie for your design and illustration skills, bringing the themes of Strangeworlds to life in a gleaming golden sparkling way! Everyone always tell me how much they love the cover, and I know it’s going to make people pick the book up, just to have a stroke of it!
My friends deserve a party of their own, really, for putting up with me for the last year or more. Nicole, I adore you – thank you for letting me harass you at all hours of the day and night (stupid time difference!) about writing and fandom and things I’d seen online that were too gross not to share. Lia, I will never understand your love for Adam Driver but I love you and that’s what’s important. Darran and Alice, you pair are wonderfully tolerant of my nonsense, and thank you for never raining on my parade. Nick, Mark, Olly and Sana, for being there the longest and never once telling me to get with the programme and get a real job, I thank you. Peter, Steve, Gabriel, my awesome sensitivity readers, you guys were amazing to work with, thank you for all your input. To everyone on Writing Twitter, thank you for RTing and flag-waving and pretending to find me entertaining, and a special mention to Mel – thanks for letting me borrow your name!
To bloggers, booksellers and librarians everywhere… I thank you so, so much. I’m very sorry not to be able to see you all in person, but the minute we’re all allowed to travel again I am going to be everywhere I can be. Thank to booksellers who have read, reviewed and recommended, to librarians who’ve put Strangeworlds on their reading lists, and to bloggers who have taken the time to read early copies and post reviews – Strangeworlds would be nothing without your support.
My family are my world, and my multiverse. They’ve put up with a lot, and gifted me a lot of time, patience and physical space in order to try and make my dreams come true. This belongs to them, too.
I’ve wanted to be an author since I was five. I didn’t know if it would ever actually happen. And now, even with the world in a very weird and worrying place, it’s still a dream come true that it has happened. And though I can’t have a proper party to celebrate it, I can give it the best send-off possible. The Strangeworlds Travel Agency has been my escape for a long time, and now it gets to be other people’s, too.
Good luck, little book.