So today is Christmas. Yesterday was my birthday. And I have been so busy stuffing myself full of mince pies and ripping open presents I haven’t had time to write the usual wordy blog. So I decided to make this more of a visual post by sharing some of my favourite ‘gifts’ from 2015:
1 The gift of living in a place that inspires me
I spend half the year in the Middle East and I love going out to the desert and telling stories around the campfire. It’s the best source of writing ideas – if I don’t come up with my own, I can always steal them from the kids
2 The gift of spending time with brilliant young people
One of the things I like most about being an author is visiting schools, festivals and libraries and spending time with mini bookworms. It’s been a brilliant year for that and I hope to get the chance to do even more next year.
3 The gift of people saying you’re doing good things
In the past, I’d have said awards weren’t important to me. But I think I’d have been lying because I was ridiculously over-excited when my first book, ‘The Case of the Exploding Loo’, was nominated for the Redbridge Children’s Awards, the Leeds Book Awards, and went on to win the Worcestershire Awesomest Book Award. Then, to top off the perfect year, last month I was awarded an Emirates Woman of the Year Award for my books and my work in schools. It is hard to describe how lovely it is to be given a prize for doing the thing you enjoy most in the world.
4 The gift of new friends
I’ve met some lovely new people this year. Some appeared as if by magic, and some I’ve sort-of-known for a while but didn’t realise how much I’d like them until I spent more time with them. Hopefully a few will end up being old friends one day.
5 The gift of old friends
Because, however wonderful new friends are, old friends are the best things in the world.
6 The gift of family
And my family are my oldest friends of all. I couldn’t love them more if I tried and they’ve been even more brilliant than ever this year.
7 The gift of laughter
I’ve laughed a lot in 2015, sometimes too loudly and sometimes at things I probably shouldn’t have been laughing at. But it was all good And in October I did it semi-professionally as part of the Funny Girls Stand-Up Tour, visiting different part of the United Arab Emirates to spread awareness of breast cancer. Our little troop was also part of the Dubai International Comedy Festival, which was an incredible experience.
8 The gift of books
I’ve read some amazing books this year. Brilliant kids’ books by authors like Keris Stainton, Sally Nicholls, Susie Day, Jo Nadin, Abi Elphinstone, Tatum Flynn, Curtis Joblin, Steve Cole, Kathy Hoopman and John Dougherty to name but a few. There have been some wonderful adult books too, like Knausgaard’s ‘My Struggle’ series. I couldn’t live without books. They make life magical.
9 The gift of book deals
Talking of books, it was great to have my second book, ‘The Case of the Exploding Brains’, published by Simon & Schuster in February. And it was equally thrilling to get a new contract for four books in the ‘Unicorn in New York series’ with OUP, the first of which will be coming out next February.
10 The gift of Star Wars
Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood and I have been nostalgia-tastic since I saw ‘The Force Awakens’ at half past midnight on that first night. I’ve already seen it twice and will probably be going again before the year’s out. Nothing wrong with a bit of geeky love!
11 The gift of cake and cookies.
They’ve kept me fuelled throughout all the excitement of 2015 and never let me down! Hooray for cake.
What have been your favourite gifts this year?