One of the best things about writing children's books is not winning prizes.
My first book, A Dog Called Grk, was nominated for the Branford Boase, which is given to debut writers and their editors. I went to the ceremony practically dribbling with anticipation and terror.
The chair of the judges was Meg Rosoff, and up until the moment that her lips spoke someone else's name, I thought I had a pretty good chance of winning.
I left the ceremony disappointed and very drunk.
Since then, my books are been nominated for a few more prizes, and I've learnt that the best thing about them is not winning - because only one person wins, and it's invariably not me - but being there, and meeting the other writers, and talking to a bunch of excited kids who have come to the ceremony, and all the other bits and pieces generated by the fact of the prize.
I've just come back from the Salford Children's Book Award, which was held in the lovely Lowry Centre on Salford Quays. My novel The Island of Thieves was on the shortlist. I didn't win, but I went out to supper the night before with renowned blogger, the Bookwitch, and two of the other shortlisted authors, Gill Lewis, author of Sky Hawk, and Jamie Thomson, scribe and minion of the Dark Lord, Dirk Lloyd.
I'd already been shorlisted alongside Jamie for another prize, The Roald Dahl Funny Prize, which he had won, and with an evil-dark-lord-cackle, he told me how much he was looking forward to repeating the triumph.
In the end, he didn't; but Gill did, taking the award for Sky Hawk.
The ceremony was hosted with great wit and energy by Alan Gibbons. He kept a couple of hundred kids very entertained, and gave a passionate speech denouncing library closures.
Here's one of the less serious moments:
I came home with the best runner-up prize that I've ever been given: something which is not merely useful, but also rather beautiful. It's with me right now: