Stations, stories … and cake

I know you’re all dying to find out.

What happened in the Threads/Girl Aloud face-off in Euston station and Birmingham, when I went to the fabulous Halesowen yesterday?

Well, Girl Aloud won hands-down everywhere. Every single chart. I didn’t even take pictures. I put it down to the cover pinkness, naturally, and not the quality of Emily’s writing or the fascinating storyline. I only wish Emily could be here to see it, and not in Australia (where she lives with her family). Anyway, Emily, well done. You can stop now. OK?

However, despite the face-off, yesterday was a VERY GOOD DAY.

First, I went to Hasbury CE Primary School to talk to Year 6 (who were wonderful – see below), then I was wined and dined by the fabulous Ros Bartlett, before talking to an invited audience at Earls High School and signing yet more books. By the end, I felt like a film star. A film star who gets cake!

At Hasbury Primary School, I thought I was going to talk for an hour, but Sue Layton told me that I could ‘have all afternoon if I wanted’. I laughed hollowly, thinking that after about 55 minutes of me the boys and girls would be clawing at the walls to get out. But next thing I knew, Sue was telling me that the going home bell was due in five minutes, and I had to stop if I wanted the chance to sign anything.

Where did the time go? I’ll tell you where. It went into chatting to YET ANOTHER bunch of truly impressive young people. Boys and girls again. I’m getting used to this now. We started off with creative writing and I got them to do a whole story. Did they complain? Did they play up? Did they talk in class and make life difficult? Not for a moment. They got their heads down, wrote BEAUTIFULLY for twenty minutes, pausing only to ask how to spell Ferrari, and was the cheetah allowed to eat the peacock? (to which the answer, of course, was yes). And then they all volunteered to read out their stories.

Which were BRILLIANT. To the point, really, at which I wonder why I bother. Kids of today have fabulous imaginations, great storytelling ability and a great sense of pace, speech, visual impact, humour, shock value, you name it. How they put up with our stuff, I’m really not sure. They’re very kind.

Thank you everyone. You were amazing. I only hope you enjoy my story half as much as I enjoyed yours. And thank you for all your advice about what to put on the website. I’ll follow it up as much as I can, whenever book 3 allows.

Then Ros. Ros is a bit of a legend in the West Midlands book community and beyond. Now I know why. Ros’s stories include having Jacqueline Wilson to stay (‘Jackie’ to Ros), and what Anthony Horowitz said last week, and bumping into JK Rowling (I bet that’s ‘Jo’ to Ros) on the steps of her local bookshop.

Ros seriously knows how to look after an author and make her feel good. She also knows a local pub – pub is entirely the wrong word for it – maybe Gastro Experience – where the food and atmosphere are sublime. And she knows lots and lots of local kids and their parents whose love of reading has blossomed thanks to her book club, and who get to meet ‘Jackie’, and Anthony, and Cornelia Funke, and lots of other people … and me.

So this is the deal. You talk. You answer questions on your favourite subject – writing. You sign books, tickets, flyers, odd bits of paper and whatever is put in front of you. You meet lots of lovely, enthusiastic readers. You are fed yummy, home-made coffee cake. And you are put safely in a taxi in time for the last train home.

Is this the best job in the world? SO is.

My only problem was that I was having such a good time I stupidly forgot to take any pictures. So here’s a picture of me from the Bishop of Llandaff School in Cardiff on Wednesday, when Save The Children thoughtfully provided a photographer. I think I look a bit stiff and Victorian, and possibly slightly startled by the picture of the cute boy beside me (I wasn’t – I just wished I could give him a hug. He looked as if he needed one.)

In Cardiff, with Save The Children

Sorry this one doesn’t have all the girls who posed with me too. Hopefully there will be more later.

I now have to come down from my little cloud and actually do some writing. ‘Jackie’ somehow manages to do at least 1,000 words a day, regardless of where she is or what she’s up to. And I don’t think she means blogging. It’s done her no harm. I shall try and follow her good example. More later, people, when I’ve finished Chapter 4.

And thank you again for looking after me on Wednesday and yesterday, on part 1 of the international tour. I bet Britney Spears and Madonna don’t have nearly as much fun as me.

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3 thoughts on “Stations, stories … and cake

  1. Dear Sophia,
    Really appreciate your lovely comments about your visit to Hasbury – we so enjoyed the afternoon.
    Wishing you all the best in your writing career, from everyone here at Hasbury!!
    Hasbury Church of England Primary SchoolX

  2. Sophia, I’ll let you in on a secret – my dad has been travelling the country and moving me up the charts manually. Don’t tell anyone.

    Your school visits sound wonderful, and the children sound talented – we’d better get writing.

    Emily x

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