Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Back To School

When I went to visit my publisher for the first time last summer, just after they bought ACID, they asked me if I’d be willing to do school visits. “Definitely!” I said, whilst thinking, my book’s not out for almost two years. Plenty of time to prepare myself for doing stuff like that. And in the general whirlwind of excitement that is meeting your publisher for the first time, I didn’t really think about it again.


Then, a few weeks ago, I got a phonecall from Anne Palmer, librarian at Murray Park Community School in Derby, asking if I’d like to do an author visit.

I won’t lie: the thought of it made me pretty nervous. Me and school… well, it wasn’t my favourite place, and I was more than glad to get out of there and escape to art college. On the other hand, this was an opportunity to talk to and work with the target audience for my book. And any school which wants to promote writing, books and reading, and inspire their students to be creative – well, how can you not jump at the opportunity to be involved with something like that?

So of course, I said yes.

By the time the day came around, I was prepared. I was going to be working with year 9 (13-14-year-olds) all day, doing an hour’s workshop on dystopian fiction for 30 students, then two 2-hour ‘writing masterclasses’ for 55 students at a time… Talk about hitting the ground running! But the students were fantastic. The stuff they came up with was incredibly creative and fun, and the sessions seemed to fly past.

Highlights? Well, they have to be one student’s answer to ‘things you’d do if you were brave enough’: ‘slap a gorilla’, which I’m still giggling over now; the table of girls who were all into writing in a big way and told me about the stories they work on in their spare time (yay!); the three students in the afternoon session who got me to come up with a story about zombies invading the school, then work out what they’d do if they were characters in that story (the zombie-fighting ninja-girl with knives in her boots, you know who you are!); and of course, all the students who were kind enough to say they wanted to read ACID and why couldn’t it be out now!

The staff were brilliant too – really supportive and keen – and Dan Seaman, assistant director of English, was a huge help with planning the day. So a MASSIVE thank you to Year 9, Dan, Anne Palmer, and all the staff at Murray Park Community School who helped out with the sessions, supplied me with chocolate biscuits and coffee and generally helped make my first time back at school in, oh, a good few years such a fantastic one!

UPDATE
After posting this this morning, I received a card from the staff at Murray Park saying how much they and the students enjoyed my visit – what a lovely surprise! Another big thank you to everyone. :)

34 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fabulous day. Lucky students!

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  3. What a wonderful day you all had - and I can see why slapping a gorilla had you all giggling, what a wonderful image that is!

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    1. It's brilliant, isn't it, Jo? :D

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  4. sounds like you had a great time - well done. I know these things can be a bit nerve wracking . . .

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  5. Sounds like you kicked some serious butt, Emma--whoohoo and congrats on conquering the minions :)

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  6. Excellent!! Those kids got just as much out of your visit as you did! So funny, they sound like the group my daughter hangs out with. She's in Literary Magazine (13/14) and they did a group project on their school being invaded by zombies! LOL

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    1. Thank you, Amanda! It must be a popular subject! And how fab that your daughter is in Literary Magazine.

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  7. May it be the first of very many wonderful school visits, Emma - considering this was your first one, it sounds like you've got a real gift for it :)

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  8. Wehey! Sounds fab! Really glad it went so well... slap a gorilla - what a corker!

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    1. Tee hee - great, isn't it? Thank you, Abi. :)

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  9. Sounds like a great visit with wonderfully creative students -- and of course what lucky students to have such a wonderful guest author!

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  10. How fabulous, Emma. So pleased your first visit went well and I'm sure it will be the first of many xxx

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    1. Thank you, Nettie! I hope it will! xx

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  11. Fantastic! Sounds like you charmed the savage beast all right!

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    1. Thank you, Kate! I guess I did - phew! :)

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  12. I'm so glad your first venture as a visiting author was a success, Emma. Two-hour writing masterclasses for 55 students at a time is certainly a major way to embark upon school visits! I bet your students had a blast. Congrats on surviving!

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    1. Thank you, Cat! I certainly did, so it was lovely to get such positive feedback from the school.

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  13. WOW. It sounds like a great visit. I wish we had authors visit my school in high school. We had poets come in middle school (er... year 6, 7 and 8), but after that...nothing. They even cut my creative writing program in high school and I remember writing to the Education board, demanding they bring it back. (Unfortunately did not happen. Ugh, budget cuts!) But back to your day...I hope all school/library visits go this well for you, Emma.

    P.S. I want to hear about that zombie-butt kicking girl with the knives in her boots. THAT'S DEFINITELY a story! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! That's such a shame about your high school writing program. We never had writers at our school; I think I would have just about died of happiness if we had!

      And as for the zombie-butt kicking girl, I KNOW! SO cool, huh? Definitely gonna use that!

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  14. What a great experience-- for you and for them!

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  15. What a great experience-- for you and for them!

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  16. Yay for a successful first school event - may there be many more to come! :D

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  17. Thanks, Jesse! I hope there will be. :D

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  18. That sounded like so much fun, scary, but fun! So good to hear about children who want to write and great that you are able to be part of encouraging them!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! It was scary… for about 5 minutes! After that I was having too much fun to feel scared. And yes, it really is great to be able to encourage people to write. I love it! :)

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