Michelle Pauli writing in guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 18 February 2009
"I used to work as a Waterstone's bookseller, and because it's an award that's chosen and judged by booksellers and because I've read for previous shortlists in the past it does mean a lot to know that booksellers are behind it," she explained. "When booksellers are behind something, they will hand-sell it to their customers and create a buzz behind it and that really makes a difference."
Harrison, who as well as her time as a bookseller has also worked as a barmaid and gallery attendant and is now an editorial assistant with Oxford University Press, persevered with her dark fairies for seven years before securing her publishing deal with Simon and Schuster.
"There were times when I wondered if it was really worth it as I kept getting kicked down. But you have to really believe in what you're doing – it was my dream. I knew from the age of about 14 that I wanted to be a writer and I was writing short stories and was encouraged by teachers. By the time I left school at 16 it was an ambition to be an author and an illustrator as well. I was drawn to children's fiction because it gave me the opportunity to both write and illustrate."
Harrison is now working on a sequel to The Thirteen Treasures, which she will again illustrate herself, and a third book which, she says, will be "completely different but still have supernatural elements".
Now in its fifth year, the Waterstone's children's book prize was created to champion new and emerging children's writers. Previous winners of the prize include The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding, which also went on to win the Nestlé Smarties book prize, and Sally Nicholls' acclaimed story of a terminally ill 11-year-old, Ways to Live Forever. The prize is open to authors writing for 7-14 year-olds who have written two fiction titles or fewer, and is unique in that it is voted for solely by booksellers across the country.
How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant by Elen Caldecott (Bloomsbury)
Zelah Green Queen of Clean by Vanessa Curtis (Egmont)
Changeling by Steve Feasey (Macmillan)
Gnomes Are Forever by Ceci Jenkinson (Faber)
Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen (Oxford University Press)
The Mapmaker's Monster: Beware the Buffalogre! by Rob Stevens (Macmillan)
Numbers by Rachel Ward (Chicken House)