My Virtual Keynote Speech at Undiscovered Voices 2020

Standing: Dr Adam Conors, Sharon Boyle, Yvonne Banham, Helen MacKenzie, Laura Warminger, Harriet Worrell, Michael Mann Seated: Angela Murray, Anna Brooke, Claire Harlow, Annaliese Avery, Urara Hiroeh

I've written about my the Undiscovered Voices competition being my big break in children's books. Imagine my delight when the UV crew invited me to be this year's honorary chair, joining such luminaries as Malorie Blackman, Sally Gardner, Frances Hardinge, Alexis Deacon, Chris Riddell and Melvin Burgess! I mean ... skulky, wrinkled, old me in that stellar company?

And then the good news: my daughter announced she was starring as Velma Kelly in her university production of Chicago! My favourite musical starring my favourite daughter (well, my ONLY daughter)! Of course, I couldn't miss it for the world!

The bad news: it was the very same night as the big UV reception, where as honorary chair, I was meant to deliver a keynote. Gah. What to do?

I did BOTH!

Below is the video speech that was screened at the UV reception. If I had still been a UV finalist, this is what I would have wanted to hear. Congratulations forever after to the UV finalists, you are on your way! And big congrats too, to the UV team who made the competition happen. What a generous gift! I will never forget that the Undiscovered Voices opened the door to my own career as a children's author.

This year I was so honoured to be invited to be honorary chair of the Undiscovered Voices, the very competition that launched my own children's writing career back in 2008. But the big night, when the children's book industry gathered to celebrate 2020's winners happened at the same time as a very important family event. So I delivered my keynote via a video. Here is my video message to this year's crop of winners, apologies for the sound. I'm still looking for a good mic. And thank you to Working Partners, the agents and editors who have supported UV since that time 12 years ago, when I found myself on the list. And thank you especially to the hard working volunteers of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, who have made the dreams of aspiring writers like me come true.
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