Coming from Chicken House Books on 3 August 2023!
Her Majesty’s League of Remarkable Young Ladies won the Times / Chicken House / IET 150 Award in 2021, which means Winifred Weatherby and her fellow lady-spies will make their international debut in 2023!
In 2022 I got to work with the fabulous editors at Chicken House. My editorial team included editor extraordinaire and YA author Kesia Lupo and Chicken House managing director Barry Cunningham.
I know, right?!? I am living the dream!
The chance to collaborate with publishing professionals is exactly what I’ve dreamed of and worked so hard towards all these years. With Kesia’s expert guidance, I rewrote the entire novel, changing it from YA to MG, ramping up the excitement, and expanding the invention element. I especially enjoyed the challenge of making the forces of antagonism more menacing and the villain more villainous.
Winifred Weatherby is no ordinary nineteenth-century girl. She’s unconventional, plucky, and smart. In fact, she’s a girl-genius inventor on a mission to become an engineer, despite the fact that engineering is a Men-Only Zone in 1889.
After being expelled from her progressive academy for promising young ladies, the incorrigible Winifred Weatherby is secretly recruited to be a gadget mistress for Queen Victoria’s league of young lady spies. While aiming to exhibit her Very Promising Invention at the 1889 Paris World Fair, Winnie must protect Queen Victoria from would-be plotters, find her missing father, and prove to the world that girls CAN be inventors and engineers.
The Remarkable Genesis of Winnie
The story has had an excellent run so far. An early iteration called Winifred Weatherby Saves the Century placed second in the 2016 CYA Conference Competition, but I put the project away while I researched and worked on other novels for a few years. All the while, I never stopped thinking about Winnie. There was something special about her voice…
At the end of 2020, eager to return to the story of my heart but needing some external motivation (aka, a deadline to push against), I gave Winnie’s story a new title, THE REMARKABLES, and entered it in the Historical Novel Society of Australasia’s (HNSA) Elizabeth Jane Corbett Mentorship Prize—and I won!
Holy Victoriana, Batman! Motivation (and deadline) supplied.
It was a sign from the universe that Winnie needed to have her day in the sun. I decided to make her a little older so she’d have more agency, and I settled on 1889 instead of 1899 as the backdrop. I had so much fun (and a few tears. And five months of neck cricks) rewriting it and working with my HNSA mentor, Dr Wendy Dunn, in the first half of 2021.
In mid 2021 after a complete rewrite and a buff-n-polish, I entered it in the CYA Conference Competition (YA section), and it won! The prize was a consultation with a fabulous senior editor from Harper Collins Australia, who gave me some promising and helpful feedback.
Around the same time I entered the CYA comp, I saw a ripper opportunity with Chicken House, my dream publisher. In addition to their usual (fabulous) annual prize, a one-off second award was on offer, the IET 150 Prize for a book with elements of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths). Well, I know a perfect fit when I see one! I crossed my fingers, said a prayer, and hit SEND.
The rest is history, and, well… future stuff! Bring on PUBLICATION in 2023! Woot!
Watch this space for more breaking news.
**Updated February 2023