Talking to Year 6 at St Hubert’s Primary, Great Harwood
This talk is a broad introduction to my work for a large or smaller audience.
Whether I’m talking to top primary, secondary students or adults, I aim to give a strong sense of how a writer can respond to real life through fiction. I read some extracts and show PowerPoint images linked to my background and books.
There is an opportunity to:
This workshop is for a class or group who have read a particular book and follows on well from the introductory talk.
Drawing on the book, I talk about how experience, research and imagination are part of a creative process that begins with the glimmering of an idea.
In our writer-reader discussion, topics include:
There is the opportunity to ask me detailed questions. In preparation, students can be encouraged to imagine themselves as ‘investigative journalists’ and to ask deeper questions about characters and plot, sources and settings, viewpoint and values. As follow-up, they can be encouraged to explore the power of the pen in their own writing.
For workshops on Journey to Jo'burg, students can 'Hotseat' me in role as the Madam. (She always provokes a lot of discussion!).
For workshops on The Other Side of Truth, students can ‘Meet Papa’, before questioning me as the author.
A small group, who represent a class or different classes, prepare a range of questions in advance. 4 is ideal, but the group may be a little larger.
This is an opportunity to learn what makes a good interview. A pre-condition is the background research and this session also involves collaboration. After the interview, the students need to work together to write it up e.g. for a school journal, or to edit if it’s a video. While only a small number are involved in the actual interview, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ stages can involve many more.
A maximum of twenty (16 is preferable) and a minimum of an hour and a quarter.
This needs to be negotiated. Whether prose or poetry, the aim will be to start a piece of work and for participants to go away keen to continue experimenting with their words, images and ideas i.e. feeling positive about drafting.
This depends on the nature of the session. Talks can be for a large audience but workshops are best class-size.
An interactive session for younger children about passing on stories through telling and writing. I tell African folktales or Aesop’s fables that I’ve loved since childhood. I talk about working with an illustrator or photographer (as in S is for South Africa) and publisher to make a book, showing samples of drafts and ‘roughs’. If Baba’s Gift is a focus, I talk about the origins of the story and writing it with my daughter Maya, and how we worked with our illustrator Karin Littlewood.
School visits flourish with good preparation. I can send you a Preparation for Author Visit sheet so your students ‘travel’ as far as possible on the day. It also includes advice on running a ‘bookshop’ which allows time for informal chatting while I sign books.
The Society of Authors’ website offers a download Guidelines for Schools Organising an Author Visit.
My normal fee is towards the upper-end of the Society of Authors’ recommended range. Authors give up at least a day’s writing as well as working very hard when they come into school. A good visit provides stimulus and ideas for teachers as well as students.
Thank you for the inspiring talk and the honesty with which you answered the students' questions. All of the classes were spellbound and were so interested in listening to you develop the ideas they had been exploring in class. The work we have done since is evidence of this.
Diane Douglas, Kineton High School
Thank you so much for your visit to our school. The children produced a fantastic selection of work (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, artwork...) inspired by your visit - with very little direction from the adults.
Gemma Kent, The Lyceum, London
I have taken part in many festivals, conferences and literary events in the UK and abroad. I enjoy talking to teachers, librarians, parents and young people. Perhaps I should just admit that I enjoy talking! Moreover, I love the drama in reading aloud. (My parents were both closely connected with theatre and probably deterred me from a precarious profession, but that’s another story...)
I live in Dorset so, depending on where you are, overnight accommodation may need to be considered as well as travel.
With organisers of What a Story: Children’s Literature Conference Beirut 2009
TO GET IN TOUCH