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Rambury author's dream realised with Bath Children's Novel award

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There are thousands of people who dream of writing a children’s book. Many pay for self-publication, but the ultimate goal is for a publisher to see something in the words which will make a book children will enjoy.

When Matthew Fox won the Bath Children’s Novel Award for The Sky Over Rebecca, the dream so many people have had came true for him, but it had been a long time coming.

Although Matthew now lives in Stockholm with his partner Ulrica, he was brought up in Ramsbury, attending the local primary school before going on to St John’s in Marlborough.

Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox's The Sky Over Rebecca
Matthew Fox's The Sky Over Rebecca

University followed and a number of jobs, but his aim was always to write and he says he entered “hundreds” of competitions over the years.

It was when his daughter was born in 2018 that his focus changed to writing for children and The Sky Over Rebecca was written while he was on paternity leave as his daughter slept during the day.

He sent in the first 5,000 words for the Bath Children’s Novel Award – it was longlisted. He then sent the complete manuscript which was shortlisted – and ended up winning. What a day that must have been! The book was finally published by Hodder last month, fulfilling the dream which Matthew had ever since he first realised his ambition to be an author all those years ago at Ramsbury Primary School.

While he enjoys living in Stockholm, he says he misses “one of the most beautiful places I know – Ramsbury and the North Wessex Downs”. He and his family try to get back for the annual Beating the Bounds walk in Ramsbury and this year is a particular delight since he was at home on the day his first novel is published.

Congratulations to Matthew – his success will inspire those for whom the dream has not yet come true.

n The Sky Over Rebecca is a story of stars, friendship, war – and magic.

When Kara finds footprints in the snow, footprints which continue, but with apparently no one to make them, it is the start of something which changes her life. She finds that she can speak to the owner of the footprints and, by touching the wrist of the unseen girl, is transported back to 1942 when the Second World War was at its height.

She learns the sad story of Rebecca and her disabled brother, Samuel, Jewish children who are hiding on an island on the frozen lake to escape discovery after their family were killed. Tension builds and Rebecca has visions of planes, but no idea if they can help – or not. The storyline takes Kara between the two time frames as she does her best to help the pair and there is sadness, happiness and help from an unexpected source before the end of the exciting, often moving, but always riveting tale. This is the first book by Matthew Fox, readers of The Sky Over Rebecca will hope there will be more.

Published by Hodder at £7.99 (PB) Age range: 10 plus

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