There are many perks – proof copies of books, meeting new readers every day, calling your obsession with reading ‘research’…the list is quite extensive.
However, one of my favourites is meeting authors and having the privilege of seeing them interact with their audience. In the last couple of weeks we have taken not one, but two authors into schools.
The first was Sara Grant, who we have been lucky enough to work with before. Sara was booked in for a talk and signing at Brentwood County High School, with an audience of Year 7s and Year 6s from Holly Trees Primary School. Little did they realise what was in store for them, as Sara not only shared excerpts from her latest book, Chasing Danger, but also lead the pupils through a story planning session. It was a joy to watch – with well over 300 pupils to keep engaged, Sara had set herself quite a task, but it was incredible. I think that the audience (including the teachers) were surprised by the fantastic ideas that Sara teased from them in just one hour.
Sara also helped to launch a writing competition which is exclusively for the Year 7 pupils at BCHS. We can’t wait to read their stories.
And this week, yesterday in fact, we took Nikki Sheehan into two schools. We started at Ingatestone and Fryerning Junior School and finished at Brentwood County High School, which is rapidly become our second home!
Nikki’s books are beautifully written tales of magical realism, full of believable characters who have extraordinary experiences. The audience at Ingatestone and Fryerning explored the idea of how an animal’s characteristics can be likened to our own. There was a lot of discussion amongst the pupils, as well as a chance to hear Nikki read excerpts from Swan Boy.
The Q and A session was great, with some really searching questions, such as ‘Do you write for yourself or for your audience?’ Nikki says that initially she writes for herself, and then thinks about the audience once she begins the editing process.
We then whisked Nikki off to Brentwood County High School, for two back to back writing workshops with Year 8 pupils. I will never get tired of watching, in awe, as authors inspire and cajole original ideas from pupils. The creativity was wonderful.
Our thanks go to Sara and Nikki, the willing pupils and the schools for their enthusiasm and promoting of reading.
Sara and Nikki are both part of the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival this summer.