Back to school
One of the unexpected pleasures of writing a book for teenagers has been joining the “author visit” circuit of schools. Having only written novels for adults, I was used to occasional appearances at literary festivals or readings in libraries and bookshops or to writers/readers groups . . . usually in front of smallish audiences of fellow adults. To be honest, I was trepidatious about the prospect of standing up in front of scores (and sometimes as many as 150) secondary school pupils. But, as a first-time author in the teen/YA market, I understood that self-promotion would play a vital part in making young readers aware of me and of Flip.
So, I have spent the eight months since the novel’s publication touring schools in West Yorkshire, giving talks and readings and running creative writing workshops. The photos show me in action during a recent visit to Scissett Middle School, near Huddersfield, where I gave a talk and a reading to a group of fifty or so Year 8 pupils, followed by a lively question-and-answer session and a chance for the pupils to buy copies of Flip and have them signed. This week I visited Birkenshaw Middle School, near Cleckheaton, and next week I’ll be at Brigshaw High School, near Castleford, with several more sessions lined up for January. It’s a great way of hand-selling books, of course, but also an invaluable opportunity to meet my readers (at least, young people who I hope will become my readers!)
I am hugely indebted to Debbie Moody, Young People’s Librarian, in Leeds, Alison Brumwell, at Booksplus, in Huddersfield, and Sonia Benster of The Children’s Bookshop, in Huddersfield, who have made this “tour” possible, and to the librarians and English teachers who have welcomed me into their schools.
Most of all though, I’m grateful to the hundreds and hundreds of pupils who have shown such enthusiasm for my visits and who have dispelled any apprehension I had about treading the boards of school halls and libraries (or learning resource centres, as they are so often called these days).
Anyone who believes young people are no longer interested in books should tag along on an author visit to see just how wrong they are.