Maggot Moon: your first time…

The many faces of Maggot Moon, including the original manuscript.

The many faces of Maggot Moon, including the original manuscript.

Today is a very special day – we have just found out that Maggot Moon has WON the Carnegie Medal. We are completely delighted for Sally, and proud and a bit overwhelmed really. Did you know Maggot Moon was only the third book we published as Hot Key Books, and one of the first we acquired?

It got us thinking about the first time we all read Maggot Moon – many of us at different times, some of us not working for Hot Key, some of us just being offered jobs – thinking about how we felt, that first time. Could any of us then imagine what impact this book has had? What a journey we have all been on with Maggot Moon. I’ve been collecting some memories from the team here and one thing was clear – we all knew from day one it was something special.

Here’s what we remember, what about you?

Sara O’Connor, Editorial Director, Print & Digital
“When I first read it, I was stunned. It felt rebellious, controversial. I knew that it was the kind of book that would rock the boat — and it has in all the right ways.”

Jet Purdie, Art Director
“Sarah Odedina, asked me to generate ideas for Maggot Moon while I was busy renovating my home. Covered in dust and debris, my girlfriend read it aloud while I demolished a wall. Looking for cool scenes to illustrate for the cover I called out “Stop!” whenever something interesting happened and my girlfriend kindly highlighted a section in the the manuscript. To my girlfriend’s annoyance we stopped lots as there were plenty of cool scenes – any of which could have made a great book cover. We found Maggot Moon sad, scary, funny and inspiring. We loved the way Standish viewed the world through his different colour eyes, misinterpreting stuff because of his dyslexia. We loved the way Standish ‘frick-fracking’ swore without really swearing. We loved the Croca-Colas and the pink Cadillac. We loved that Standish was willing to risk all and attempt to take-on the evil totalitarian bad guys.”

Meg Farr, PR Manager
“I vividly remember finishing Maggot Moon on the train on the way back from a sales conference last spring and being blown away by it – that ending! It was always a clear prize winner for me and thoroughly well deserving of all the praise and accolades it’s getting – it’s a book everyone should read!”

Kate Manning, Sales & Marketing Director
“This is a quote from an email I sent to Sarah Odedina in September 2011 having just read Maggot Moon after being offered the job to start Hot Key in the January: ‘If this is the standard of the first ever Hot Key book, then this is definitely going to be the best job ever’

Cait Davies, Sales & Marketing Executive
“I was sat in my parent’s house, thinking (panicking) about moving to London for a job I still couldn’t believe I’d been offered. Then MAGGOT MOON pinged into my inbox… and I was lost. Completely absorbed by the story, I couldn’t think about anything else. Standish, the Motherland and Hector felt so real right there in my childhood bedroom – MAGGOT MOON had me gripped like only the best books can. And when I finished the last page, I wasn’t so worried anymore.

Olivia Mead, Sales, Marketing & PR Assistant
“I was working as a bookseller when MAGGOT MOON came out. There was already this buzz around it, even before the proof arrived, that became hard to ignore.  And then the proof came in. It sat there looking so subtle and understated, my colleagues and I didn’t know what to expect. My manager George took it home that night, came in the next day and just said: ‘It’s even more than you want it to be’. At the shop we were supposed to take an hour’s lunch break but we always cut them short. When it was my turn to go, George handed me the proof and said, ‘You HAVE to take the full hour’. I came back in and she just had this look on her face, saying ‘I know!’. I think everyone who reads it just knows how original, special and extraordinary MAGGOT MOON is.”

Emma Matthewson, Editor-at-Large
“As I turned the last page of Maggot Moon I felt so sad, yet at the same time so empowered. Two such emotions should be contradictory, but in Maggot Moon they are not – which shows what an extraordinary book it is.”

Sarah Benton, Head of Marketing
“I never read manuscripts on my computer. Well, never until I received Maggot Moon. I had just been offered the job at Hot Key and was at home one weekend before Christmas. I opened the manuscript and thought, I’ll just read a bit, and then put it on my Kindle. I read the whole thing right there and then on my laptop, on the sofa that afternoon and was breathless by the end. I re-read it a few months later while working on the iBook and even second time round I was blown away. Every time Sally reads even a bit of it at an event I want to rush to re-read it, and there are so few books that have that kind of draw.”

Ruth Logan, Rights Director
“I remember exactly where I was in the house, reading the typescript, lying on the floor.  I didn’t know what to expect but right from the beginning the most beautiful and resonant phrases and images were there in front of my eyes: “a breeze in the park of the imagination”; words are “sweets in the mouth of sound”,;“I don’t have a snowflake of an idea” ; “one thing bled to another”.  There were so many that I had to write them down.  And then there was Standish himself  – a hero of or perhaps FOR our time – his absolute sense of what is right. I want to graffiti his name on walls everywhere because he represents such a luminous vision of humanity. STANDISH LIVES (ok!)  Thank you for writing this, Sally.”

Sarah Odedina, Managing Director
“When I first read Maggot Moon I was literally electric with excitement because I knew within the first few sentences that it was extraordinary and I was so excited to keep reading.  I read it as an ordinary reader and was thrilled.  I remain thrilled when I look at it again now.  It is a wonderful original and utterly transfixing book that will be thrilling readers, young and not so young, well in to the future.”

Please do share your “first time” with us below, and congratulations again to Sally for such a fantastic achievement. We are all absolutely over the moon!


10 responses to “Maggot Moon: your first time…

  1. Bravo to the Hot Key team and especially to the wonderful Sally Gardner!

  2. I read Maggot Moon as part of my publishing masters (it was essential reading for a Diversity in Children’s Publishing lecture given by Beth Cox of Without Exception), I had no idea what to expect except that it was praised for its portrayal of dyslexia but what I didn’t expect was that I would be quite so awed by it! The language! The story! I devoured it quickly, unable to put it down. It’s such an exciting book and Standish is long going to be one of my favourite literary characters.

    It’s such a deserving win. Congratulations to both Sally and you at Hot Key – thank you for giving us such a wonderful book!

  3. Katie Packman

    When I first read Maggot Moon I was blown away. I was reading it with the children at a Carnegie Shadowing book club and it is the only nominee that I could not put down. In fact, I read it in one sitting, staying up until 2am to finish it! (with 2 kids and a full time teaching job – staying up until 2am is a rarity). So pleased it has received the Carnegie Medal – congratulations to Sally and the whole team at Hot Key Books

  4. Completely delighted for both author and publisher. Have loved Sally’s writing since I read, ‘I, Coriander’ and a fan of ‘Hot Key’ because of the ethos and quality titles you’re publishing. Congratulations all!

  5. I work at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. The lovely guys in our bookshop knew my fondness for Sally Gardner’s work and pushed a copy of Maggot Moon in my hands. I couldn’t put it down and finished the final chapters on my lunch break in the staff kitchen. Which meant I blubbed in front of all my bemused colleagues munching on their sarnies.
    I’ve raved about this book for months so I’m delighted it has won the Carnegie Medal. Well done Sally and everyone at Hot Key Books.

  6. So made up to see Maggot Moon winning the Carnegie! And what a great post about it. I first heard of the book at Bologna 2012, when Emily excitedly told me about it while discussing the HK launch list. This is an extract from the email I sent to her after reading, ‘…one stormy afternoon, I settled down to meet Standish and the book was everything and more than you’d described! I used the phrase ‘frick-fracking fantastic’ on twitter, but it was also heart-breaking, addictive and the twist so clever. And what an amazing cast of characters! I’d have followed Standish anywhere.’ Congrats Sally and all at Hot Key Books!

  7. I said in my review that I thought Maggot Moon was an example of ‘truly great storytelling’ and I’m so happy that others feel the same way too! I think I read it in one sitting. Having short chapters meant that ‘just one more…’ was too difficult to resist!

  8. Brilliant news, and well deserved too! Congrats to all 😀

  9. Pingback: Sally Gardner on Maggot Moon and dyslexia — UK Arts Directory

  10. Pingback: Sally Gardner on Maggot Moon and dyslexia — Tin Hut Tales Publishers

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