Happy New Year debut dancers! Welcome to a special, sparkling, out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new, Debut-Dance Ball. What do you mean, you couldn’t face another egg flip? Grab yourselves a glass of bubbles, forget your resolutions (#5: never dance in public again; #7: never drink in public again) and join Justin Davies and debut middle-grade author, Kate Wiseman, in a new year waltz. The orchestra’s ready, the conductor has arrived - let’s dance!

Click here for some Viennese waltzing fun!

Kate, may I be the first to wish you a happy new year, or should I say, frohes neues Jahr?

Thanks, Justin. That would give me the chance to reply: und frohes neues Jahr auch an dich, after a swift check of Google Translate, via the mobile I carry in this sparkly evening bag. I know hardly any German, and what I do know shouldn’t be repeated at such a lovely ball.

Published by Piper Verlag GMBH 2017

Many congratulations on your debut novel Gangster School. How does it feel to be published?

Blooming amazing. I’m still pinching myself – look at my bruises! It’s a dream come true. I never thought I’d be one of the lucky ones.

Tell us about the celebrations in the Wiseman house when you heard about your deal.

Undignified dancing (very different to our beautiful waltz,) much quaffing of effervescent wine, followed by even less dignified dancing. The cats were quite alarmed. I crowed to my family and friends and then had to tell them to keep it to themselves. Not very fair of me, really, but I couldn’t help myself.

Ten seconds to describe Gangster School. Go!

Eek! Two secretly Dependable (non-criminal) kids must hold their own at the world’s best school for trainee criminals or get sent somewhere much worse. They soon discover that Pecunia Badpenny, a skinny super-villain with dubious taste in gloves, is implementing a dastardly plot against the school.

Unusually, your debut has been published in Germany first. How did that come about?

My agent signed me in September and took Gangster School to Bologna in October. Piper Verlag snapped it up. It was amazing – I had a three book deal within a couple of months of being taken on.

Did you get to meet your translator? Did anything have to change to fit the German market?

I’ve never met the translator, Michaela Link, but she’s absolutely brilliant and has translated some amazing authors including Trudi Canavan, Katie Fforde and Christopher Paolini. She’s also an author in her own right. She does a brilliant job with Gangster School – there are all sorts of translating challenges – deliberately bad verse, puns and other stuff. Very little changed for the German market. Mainly making the characters’ names slightly easier for German readers, so Pecunia Badpenny became Pekunia and Gruffles the stinky dog became Gruffel. He still stinks, though.

Kate, you’ve written about the highs and lows of your journey to publication (at the writing blog mybookcorner.com). Do you have any words of wisdom to share with us? What’s the one most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

Not to give up – a set back is only the end of the story if you decide it is. Oh, and to be patient, which is hugely difficult for me, because I’m not. And to take the opportunity to interact with other writers whenever possible, because writing’s a lonely business, as you know. Sorry – overload on the important lessons, there.

You’ve recently been able to share the fantastic news that Gangster School has found a UK publisher. What can you tell us about the deal?

Yippeee! That provoked more undignified dancing and quaffing wine and frightened felines. I’ve signed a deal for four Gangster School books with ZunTold, a brand new UK publisher. The first one is due out next summer and the second one next autumn. As they’re small (at the moment) I’m fully involved in everything, which is brilliant. I have huge faith in Elaine Bousfield, who owns ZunTold. She’s a very canny lady with a passion for publishing and heaps of determination.

And finally, Kate, do you have a writing resolution for 2018?

Yes. To finish Gangster School 4 and to start work on the story of the school’s founder. Sir Thomas Blaggard. He started out as a pauper in a mud hut on the banks of the Thames, eating weeds and wrestling bears, and ended up as Tudor England’s foremost villain. His father was a pig-impersonator. It’s a tragic tale.

Thank you, Kate for joining me at the Debut-Dance Ball, and for leading me in the Blue Danube – I can never remember the steps!

That was The Blue Danube? I thought it was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. No wonder we had a few problems. We managed to avoid each other’s toes, though, so I think we can say it was a success!

Gangster School is out now, published by Piper Verlag. (German/English dictionaries are freely available at your local library, or, if that sounds like hard work, the UK edition is out soon!)

Yes! Watch this space. Or check out ZunTold’s website for details. The first UK one should be out next summer.

Photo of author Kate Wiseman by Louise Lusher

Kate Wiseman grew up in Oxford and lived in lots of interesting places before settling in Saffron Walden, Essex, with her husband, son and cats. She has a degree in English and Creative Writing and a Masters in English Literature. The first Gangster School was shortlisted for the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing, the Greenhouse Funny Prize and the Winchester Writers’ Prize for Children’s Funny Fiction. She is an animal lover and a vegetarian and occasionally faints on Oscar-winning film directors.
Follow Kate on Twitter: @KateWiseman Website: katewiseman.uk 

Justin Nevil Davies

Justin Nevil Davies leads two distinct lives. In one, he flies around the world as cabin crew. In the other, he writes middle grade novels with the aim to make kids laugh. Sometimes, his lives converge. Justin is part of SCBWI South East Scotland.
Follow Justin on Twitter, Instagram, Blog

Louisa Glancy is a features editor for Words & Pictures.
Contact: writers@britishscbwi.org
Twitter: @Louisa Glancy
'Justin's Debut-Dance Ball' header illustration credit: Louisa Glancy

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