Brighton authors M. G. Leonard and Lisa Heathfield are in the running for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017. Patrice Lawrence, who was born in Brighton and now lives in London, is also shortlisted for coming-of-age drama Orangeboy. The award is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious in the world of children’s books.
Katie Gledhill, bookshop manager at Waterstones Brighton, said: “Brighton is renowned for its wealth of creative talent, so it’s perhaps no surprise that three of the books shortlisted for this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize are from authors with strong connections to the city.”
So, who are the lovely ladies putting our city on the map with their writing for young audiences?
M.G. Leonard, also known as Maya, lives in Brighton with her husband and her two sons. Having graduated in Shakespeare Studies, her creative background includes time spent in the music industry. She then trained as an actor. As well as performing, she took to directing and writing before deciding to write and publish her own stories. When she’s not writing, she now works as a freelance digital media producer and has quite an impressive list of clients including Harry Potter West End and the National Theatre.
Her first book, Beetle Boy, follows Darkus, a young boy who solves the mystery of his father’s disappearance with help from a giant beetle named Baxter. It’s shortlisted for the Younger Fiction category. She will publish her next instalment of the Beetle Boy trilogy in April, with the final book due in 2018. She admits she was terrified of beetles and creepy-crawlies before researching for her book!
Before becoming a mum to three sons, Lisa worked as a secondary school teacher. Now, she writes page-turners for teens rather than just encouraging them to read! Her debut novel, Seed, was met with a positive reception in the UK and US alike. She’s been nominated for the Older Fiction category this year for Paper Butterflies, a heart-breaking tale of a girl trapped in her dark and secret home life by her stepmother and stepsister.
Her advice for budding authors? “Try to write every day. And read every day. Follow your instincts. And write because you love it, not to get published.”