My secrets for successful children’s authors events …
- If you are six foot seven, heavily bearded, vastly experienced (like Philip Ardagh) and talking to a hundred primary school children, feature pants heavily in your talk. Lots of pants. Preferably second hand ones – or second ‘bottom’ ones. Read from the book in which the main character falls to his death in the first paragraph. Make the children gasp and laugh so loudly their teachers look slightly worried … and relax.
- If you are somewhat shorter, devoid of facial hair and still working on it, listen to the advice of a local bookseller (thanks, Jo) and make the children work.
Or in my case, Year 9s from Our Lady’s. A fantastic group of lively, talented girls who’d read Threads, understood the characters and picked up loads of details about them, which was going to prove important later. I totally had the best class to work with. Not that I met the other classes, but my girls were brilliant.
We made mood boards – one for each character. I say ‘we’. The girls did all the work and I wandered around, chatting. The results looked like this:
While we (they) worked, I also answered questions. I love it when someone wants to know what happens next. I spend so much of my life thinking about what that might be – it’s great to be able to share my obsessions. It was a totally fun way to spend an hour in a tent.
We were doing it in Hoxton Square, as part of the StarLit festival. It had a real festival feel, in the sense that there were lots of tents, and it was muddy. Very muddy. All it needed was Kate Moss in Hunter wellies and it could have been Glastonbury. With books. It was amazing. I hope I get the chance one day to do it again.
Then I had to head off to do an interview with a secret source who’s helping me with research for book 4. Book 4, by the way is HARD. Bringing new characters to life is painful and demanding. I met up with a new author called JP Buxton at StarLit over lunch, and we mutually bemoaned how difficult it is to rework the magic after the first series is over. It was like a support group for writers. (His first book – I Am The Blade – sounds fantastic, by the way. If you’re into Arthurian legends, check it out. He also has mad hair, which I approve of.)
Anyway, back to my secret interview. It was fascinating. So good that the women at the tables either side of us were leaning forward several degrees to catch what we were saying. The actual writing part may be tough, but the finding-out-about-it part is fab. Especially when accompanied by cappuccino and shortbread. I just hope it feeds OK into the latest draft that I’m working on.
It would be so much easier if I could grow a beard, and a foot, and talk about pants.