Because they are my passion--always have been, always will be. From the earliest days of being read to by my father (Rudyard Kipling's White Seal and The Elephant's Child were top favourites as were Peter Rabbit--the first 'proper' book I ever read by myself--and the tales of Orlando the Marmalade Cat), to the present day (discovering new wonders all the time, the latest being Neil Gaiman's Coraline and Peter Dickinson's The Ropemaker and Angel Isle, plus the anticipatory future pleasure of reading a long list of others including Michelle Lovric's Undrowned Child), I have found almost my every reading need covered within the canon of children's literature. (Of course I read a wide-ranging variety of 'adult' literary genres too, and take great pleasure in much of it--I am currently immersed in the three volumes of Lyttleton/Hart-Davis Letters--a nostalgic journey into a long ago world of publishing and academia.) But if some wizard waved a wand and said 'Begone' to every book written for those over 18, then I would not be unhappy to find only children's books in my library. There is an honesty and a directness about a really well-written children's book which cuts straight to the heart of things without messing about. For me, being a writer in this field is the best job in the world. While wrestling with words and plots and recalcitrant characters (and often days on end where inspiration fails) is hard work mentally--and sometimes physically--I wouldn't and couldn't dream of doing anything else, ever. When a story comes out just right, it is a kind of satisfaction second to none (until a second reading, when, inevitably, the next round of 'fiddling about' kicks in--for me a story is never really finished, even when the editor has to physically rip it out of my hands and send it to the printer!).
Thus, feeling as I do, it was a huge pleasure last Friday to join in with our fantastic blog birthday party (and if you haven't visited, please go back and take a look--it's still not too late to enter the great book giveaway competition and sign the guestbook). The chance to celebrate, talk and read about children's books here with like-minded people from fellow authors to agents, publishers, reviewers and readers has indeed been An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. I've learned a lot over the last year. Happy Birthday once again, ABBA, and thanks for introducing me to the blogsphere! Long may you flourish, and long may we all go on celebrating children's books together.