"I’m thrilled to have been chosen!"


Second place holder for the First Pages Prize

Find out more about Kristy Keller and her work in this Q&A with SWF.

Q. Congrats on reaching second place in the First Pages Prize with your novel Harper Holloway and the Disappearance of Arabella Sent. It's a middle-grade detective fiction with deft humour and (a handful of surprises?) what was your inspiration for writing it?

A. Thanks – I’m thrilled to have been chosen! This story was born as my dissertation for my undergraduate degree and has been with me for nearly four years though admittedly, this version barely resembles the one I submitted back then! I was inspired to write this novel through my love of detective stories, particularly Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (my favourite books as a child).

Q. Where are you from, where do you live, did you study writing?

A. I am originally from Essex (southeast UK) where I once claimed that English was my least favourite subject at school and now, ironically, I am an English Teacher in Cheltenham (southwest). I studied my BA in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Derby and am currently studying an MRes in Children’s Literature at the University of Reading.

Q. How long have you been writing?

A. I’ve always written—even as child, I would make picture books and write plays with my friends to regale our parents with! However, I began to take my writing seriously when I started University and experimented with a range of different styles and genres. This was where I found my love for writing Children’s Literature.

Q. What were you doing when you heard you came second in the First Pages Prize?

A. Returning from a particularly stressful day at work (the day before the end of term!) and the news really brightened my day! I then did what all good writers do when they achieve success and promptly rang my mum to scream excitedly.

Q. What's your process/writing ritual or any favourite books you'd recommend?

A. I don’t have a process as such—however, I try to keep reading as I find this keeps my mind turning over new ideas. It’s impossible for me to read and not get inspired to write.

Q. What are your next steps for Harper Holloway and are you planning a series?

A. I would love to write series of books about Harper, and have planned a longer adventure for him than he experiences in this book.

Q. You've flown to Stockholm for the prize presentation from Cheltenham, England, how does it feel to be here? Is this your first time in Sweden? Are you enjoying SWF?

A. Yes, it’s great! I’ve visited Stockholm once before and absolutely loved it! I’m thrilled to visit again, especially for this reason. I’ve also never been to a writer’s festival before so am excited to be here and am ready to be inspired!