Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The 2013 Crystal Kite Winner Profiles: British Isles' Dave Cousins (for "Fifteen Days Without A Head")

As a special treat, you get to watch Dave Cousins giving his acceptance keynote:

Dave won for the UK/Europe division for his young adult novel, "15 Days Without A Head"

I contacted Dave to find out more...

Lee: Please tell us about your book!

Dave: "15 Days Without a Head" is the story of two brothers. Fifteen-year-old Laurence just wants to be a normal teenager, but spends most of his time looking after the boys' mum, who suffers from depression and drinks too much. Jay is six; he looks like an angel, but thinks he's a dog, and has a tendency to bite people he doesn't like. When their mum fails to come home one night, Laurence tells nobody, terrified he and Jay will be taken into care if anyone finds out. Instead, he attempts to keep up the pretence that Mum is still around: dressing up in her clothes to trick the neighbours, and spinning an increasingly complicated tangle of lies. After two weeks on their own, running out of food and money, and with suspicious adults closing in, Laurence finally discovers what happened to her – and that's when the trouble really starts! The book has been described as "a tender, honest story about family, forgiveness and hope, with some hilarious and surreal moments" which I think sums it up quite nicely!

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Dave: I have been involved with SCBWI since 2009, and it has changed my life! My inclusion in the 2010 Undiscovered Voices anthology led to signing with an agent and a publishing deal for 15 Days – this eventually enabled me to work full-time as an author – a dream come true! In addition, my membership of SCBWI has made me many new friends. Going to the conferences and events always fills me with renewed energy and enthusiasm, thanks to the incredibly supportive and creative SCBWI community of writers and illustrators.

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Dave: It's incredibly difficult to get your work noticed, let alone published – but it does happen! Once you are published, making a living as a writer or illustrator, is getting more difficult than ever. But stories are important, so my one piece of advice would be: keep writing and illustrating the stories bursting in your head and heart to be told, and don't give up!

Thanks, Dave.

I also connected with Natascha Biebow, SCBWI British Isles' Regional Advisor, to learn more about their region:

The British Isles is the largest region outside the USA with nearly 700 members. We run over 40 events each year, including the annual two-day conference, a fiction and picture book retreat, an annual Agents’ Party, the Professional series (six talks a year in London aimed at professional development on a variety of topics), the Illustrators’ series (Saturday workshops with a hands-on craft element), sketch and scrawl crawls, masterclasses and PULSE events (SCBWI Pulse provides workshops, lectures and professional development for published children’s book writers and illustrators). A network of regional organizers run local critique groups, workshops and speaker and social events across the country. We have a dynamic newsletter blog, Words & Pictures.
This is the third year in which one of our region's members has won the Crystal Kite and we are thrilled about that!

And about Dave's win, Natascha said,

“This book was first discovered in the SCBWI BI’s innovative UNDISCOVERED VOICES competition and it is thrilling to see it published and recognized by fellow members for its brilliant voice and humorous plot."

You can find out more about Dave at his website here.

And to learn more about SCBWI British Isles, visit them here.

Illustrate and Write On,

No comments: