Emma Read: On signing with Chicken House for her debut MILTON THE MIGHTY

I’m so excited this is my first blog-post for #WriteMentor! Thank you Stuart for indulging me, while I make a small announcement: 

My debut novel MILTON THE MIGHTY will be published by Chicken House in July 2019, under my author name, Emma Read. 

It is a story for young, middle-grade readers about a courageous and determined (but tiny) spider, who overcomes self-doubt to do something super-heroic.  

Milton is a house spider who lives, mostly unnoticed, under the skirting board by the front door. 

His life changes when his big house human suddenly begins screaming the house down at the sight of him, and after a good deal of running and screaming, Milton discovers the reason: a tabloid newspaper has falsely branded him DEADLY! 

Picture2Things go from bad to worse when spider-hater and owner of BugKILL! pest-control, Felicity Thrubwell, turns up on the doorstep to exterminate Milton and all his eight-legged friends. But, with the help of his BSFs (Best Spider Friends), Audrey and Ralph, Milton finds the courage to do something unheard of: he communicates with his small house human, Zoe. 

Together they create an online campaign to save spider-kind, and with the help of the neighbourhood spiders, become social media sensations. They also confront the desperately devious Felicity and send her legging-it for good. 

Milton the Mighty will be illustrated by the incredibly talented Alex Griffiths. (http://www.alexggriffiths.com/ 

Do take a look at his work on Instagram and Twitter—it’s simply gorgeous. Alex has his own picture book, The Bug Collector, also released in July 2019 with Andersen Press. (https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/1083035/alex-g–griffiths.html 

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  1. The manuscript was originally a ten-thousand word chapter book—a short book aimed at readers aged around five to eight. It grew to thirteen-thousand, following agent edits and is now more than triple the original word count. Milton’s not so tiny after all! 
  2. Milton is the second book I completed (aside from the critically acclaimed* Marmalade Atkins fan-fiction which I wrote in middle school). I began querying in late 2017 and was fortunate to catch the eye of a few agents. 
  3. Under its working title, ‘Milton Hits the Headlines’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Bath Children’s Novel Award ( https://bathnovelaward.co.uk/childrens-novel-award/ ) 
  4. It also won #PeerPitchFirst250 in 2017, an international peer-feedback competition and social media event run by The Scribblers Blog (@ScribblersBlog) 
  5. Milton is a false widow spider—often maligned and very unfairly treated by the UK press. These spiders are not deadly, and are in fact extremely effective natural pest-controllers.  
  6. Before writing Milton the Mighty, I was an arachnophobe. The process of studying and learning (tentatively at first) about these fascinating creatures gradually began to cure me of my fear. I am scared of a LOT of things, but I’m proud to say I have crossed spiders off that list. 
  7. The campaign that Milton and Zoe set-up is called #NotScaredOfSpiders—IRL you can use the hashtag to tell the world why you’re not scared of spiders. 
  8. A second Milton book will be published in 2020, also by Chicken House. 

*Read to the class by my teacher. 

Follow me on Twitter at @emmydee73 and on Instagram at EdieReadie  

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