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  CBBC Newsround chats to Hilary McKay
Updated 08 January 2003, 06.41
Whitbread Children's book winner Hilary McKay
How do you feel about winning? Did you expect to win?
I'm absolutely delighted. I was just thrilled to hear that I'd been shortlisted and I certainly didn't expect to win. I had read one of the other shortlisted books (Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve) which I thought was a great book so I knew the standard was very high.

What's Saffy's Angel about?
The story is about a family of children. Saffy the main character is adopted and it's basically about her finding her way in the family. There's the serious issue about adoption but there are also lots of entertaining light-hearted moments.

Is there a message in the story?
Not really, I've just tried to write an upbeat, positive story. I've had lots of letters from children saying how much they've enjoyed reading it. That's the best thing about writing actually - getting letters from children. Any child that takes the time to write, even just telling me about their own family, is very kind. And it's a real boost for me.

Saffy's Angel
The Whitbread Children's Book of the Year, Saffy's Angel
What inspired you to write the book?
Painting is one the main themes in the book because I have an interest in painting. The child characters in the book are all named after colours - Saffron (Saffy), Caddy, Indigo and Rose.
Also a garden in Italy inspired one of the locations of the story. And one or two of the characters are based on real people, not entirely, just little characteristics about them.

How long did it take to write?
The story came quite quickly to me and it wasn't difficult to write at all. But it takes months to edit and finally get it printed - that's where the time goes.

Would you like to see the book turned into a film?
Of course I would love the book to be made into a film. But there are no plans at the moment.

JK Rowling and Philip Pullman have both won this award. Do you think you can go on to the same level of success?
I don't think that will happen, They (Rowling & Pullman) are well out of my league. I think they are both amazing writers and have written books that children as well as adults can enjoy. My children love Harry Potter.

What are you planning to do next?
The sequel to Saffy's Angel is due out on 30 December and I'm also working on a picture book which I hope will be out for Christmas. So I'm very busy at the moment.

What advice do you have for young writers?
My best advice would be to read a lot. I love reading. And also listen to people telling stories, that's where you get ideas. Read and listen, that would be my advice.

More InfoBORDER=0
Find OutOur guide to book awards
ChatChat about your fave reads!


Past StoriesBORDER=0
Hilary McKay wins top kids' books prize
Kids' books battle for top prize
Terry Pratchett: 'Proud of kid's book award'
Artemis Fowl steals top kids book prize


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