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Clean, lean, terrifically digital – welcome to the new me

The general consensus around here was that an image re-think was in order. The brand needed to be refreshed.

And because a website can sometimes seem like a visible, external version of your professional  life, the best place to start was here, online.

I have  a new website and with it (the master-plan) a new me.

Not that there was anything wrong with the old online version. Cleverly designed, it had a scurrying rat leading to the children’s room, and a maze of pathways connecting to my various activities. The problem was not with the website, but was closer to home.

Frankly, my career as a freelance was beginning to look something of a mess.

To me, it made perfect sense that I wrote books and columns, and also composed songs, and also appeared on stage to perform them, but others were becoming confused.

Rather as WH Smith used to have the apologetic advertising slogan ‘We also sell books’, so I have found myself muttering during an interview about a new book that I also write songs, or, during a gig at a folk club, referring to writing as ‘my other day job’.

The more connected the world has become, the greater the hankering to compartmentalise. Even within the literary world, those who write books and newspaper articles for adults and also write stories for younger readers tend to be seen as suspect, lacking in fundamental seriousness.

Similarly, in the often insular world of children’s writing, I have often sensed that the fact that I am not a full-time children’s author has put me beyond the pale. I am not quite ‘one of us.’

The confusion was perfectly encapsulated by my last novel ­The Twyning. When I was writing it, I believed – and I still do believe  – that it could be enjoyed by teenage and adult readers alike. It won an award for childrens’  books in the UK and is to be published in American by the eminent children’s book publisher Candlewick Press.

Yet, when nominated for the Carnegie Prize, it was rejected by the organisers on the grounds that it was a novel for adults, and therefore not eligible.

It is time to tidy all this up. There was a time when the idea of parading oneself on the screens of strangers felt odd, a vulgar and unhealthy mixture of marketing and creativity, the personal and the professional. Now it is second nature. Writers have discovered that, if we don’t speak up for our work, no one else will. Self-advertising is part of the survival game.

I have come to like it. Showing that the books, the songs, the columns are all connected, getting reactions from friends and strangers, is no longer an alien process.  Thanks to the brilliant designer of this website Manuel Frigerio, I hope that it is easier to see where the different parts of my work fit in with one another.

I am still  updating parts of the site, and I hope to be blogging here more than I have in the past. I shall be posting videos of my songs, new and not so new, sometimes trying them out on you.

It feels like a bit of professional Spring clean, and I hope you like it.