We are so proud to announce that Kieran Larwood, middle grade author of Freaks and the Podkin One Ear series, has been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 for The Legend of Podkin One Ear. The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded annually by CILIP for an outstanding book written in English for children and young people, and is one of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious book awards for children’s writing.

To mark the occasion we caught up with Kieran to talk all things Podkin.

Congratulations Kieran! The response to the Podkin series has been fantastic – winner of The Blue Peter Book Award 2017, Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month July 2017, and now nominee for the Carnegie Medal 2018. How does it feel knowing so many people are connecting with the characters and world that you have built?

I’ve been completely overwhelmed at the response to Podkin.  I always hoped it would do well, but to have so many children saying they love the book, dressing up and drawing pictures of characters is amazing.  It’s the reason I put so much blood, sweat and tears into becoming a writer, and it definitely makes it all worthwhile.

As a fantasy writer, what is it like working with big names such as Tolkien illustrator David Wyatt and Terry Pratchett’s US editor Anne Hoppe?

It’s another dream come true.  David’s illustrations are so incredible, and I’m constantly amazed at the way he seems to recreate the exact pictures that were in my head when I was writing the books.  Anne has been a dream to work with too, as have all the staff at Faber.  It’s clear they really support the stories and the world I’ve built up, and the help and advice they give are invaluable.

You were originally the winner of the 2011 Times Chicken House Competition – what was the experience like going from a competition winner to a published author on your second series of books?

It was great to win the Chicken House competition, and I was so lucky to have such a huge break, but it has also been a big step in getting a series of books chosen by a publisher in a more traditional way.  I was very worried at the time that I might not come up with an idea as good as my competition-winning one, but the response to Podkin has shown that it’s possible if you put the work and effort in.

What is the one message or feeling you would love for readers to take away from the Podkin series?

I have tried hard not to ‘preach’ too much in the books, as I think it’s important for children to draw their own messages and ideas from stories, but I think the overall lesson is that anyone can do great things if they try.  I would love it if children who read the stories felt empowered to tackle things they find difficult with more confidence, even if- like Podkin discovers- it isn’t an easy thing to do.

Jane Austen had her table, and Ian Fleming had the Goldeneye Estate. Is there any particular place that you go or thing that you do in order to generate your inspiration and ideas?

I’m not lucky enough to have a studio yet, let alone an estate, but I do live amongst some beautiful, natural surroundings on the Isle of Wight.  A lot of the stories are set amongst woods, forests and downs, so if ever I feel the need for a bit of inspiration, I head off into the countryside for a long walk

The second book in the series, Podkin One Ear: The Gift of Dark Hollow, published this Autumn with Faber & Faber. Rights to the Podkin series have so far been sold in five international territories.

See more about Podkin One-Ear.