JUSTIN'S DEBUT-DANCE BALL Last Dance and Christmas Roundup!

Two years ago, Justin Davies opened the doors to his dance hall and invited his first debut children’s author to take a spin on the floor with him. Now though, it's time for him to hang up his dancing shoes and hand the debut feature over to someone else.

Since Patrice Lawrence took me up on my invitation – and let’s face it, she was brave … news hadn’t got out back then about my two left feet – over twenty fabulous first-time writers have joined me. We’ve toasted their success and tripped the light fantastic as I asked them about their debut books and their experiences of being a published children’s author or illustrator. I'm handing over now, but there’s still time for one last glorious, wild and possibly even daring, turn around the dance floor, as I take a look back over all of these wonderful debut books from SCBWI-BI members.

(Don’t feel sorry for me … I’m not dancing alone; I’ve invited everyone back to the Debut-Dance Ball for the final dance. Why not join us? The band’s tuned up and I’ve requested Celebration by Kool & the Gang.)

Covers of debut books from the past two years
There have been picture books, middle grade and young adult debuts to enjoy. Along the way, I’ve found myself dancing to an eclectic range of music too – and thankfully, most of my guests have been happy to lead! The band have played reggae, disco and classical; we’ve waltzed, swung our Elvis hips and our 80s soft-rock hairdos. There’s been atmospheric film soundtracks, contemporary singer-songwriters and I was even spotted dancing the Russian Kalinka (thanks, Sophie Anderson!).

In fact, the music choices have been as varied as the books. There have been pirates, explorers and gangsters; dogs, dragons and root vegetables! We’ve read about wartime horses, a Tudor heroine and a boy with an addiction to infographics. We’ve been transported to the Himalayas, met a polar bear in the North, and flown in a sky ship to the frozen south. I’ve run after a house with chicken legs, searched for mittens in Scotland, and been on a very unusual train ride. I’ve donned my Nordic noir sweater and an impossibly long moustache. There’ve been tears and tragedy, hope and laughter, and liberating first kisses. But most of all, there’s been brilliant writing and some incredible illustrating, all brought to you by this sensational team of debut authors – some of whom are now on their second, third, fourth and more, books.

Authors and illustrators who have featured in Justin's Debut-Dance Ball 
It’s been a privilege and a joy to chat with these wonderful people and to read their books. I hope you’ve all enjoyed hearing about their debuts and learned a bit about the sometimes tricky, but always thrilling, road to being published.

Although this might be my final feature, fear not debut interview fans! Helen Simmons is taking over the debut slot for Words & Pictures from next year. I can’t wait to read about tons more debut SCBWI-BI writers and illustrators. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to be featured myself one day! Keep writing! Keep drawing! Keep those debuts coming!

Follow this link to relive all of Justin's dances with dazzling debut authors and illustrators from the past two years.

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 co-coordinator of SCBWI South East Scotland.

Follow Justin: 
Twitter: @flyingscribbler 
Instagram: flyingscribbler 
Blog: The Flying Scribbler 

Louisa Glancy is a features editor for Words & Pictures. 
Twitter: @Louisa Glancy 

Feature Illustration by Louisa Glancy

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