Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Last month I visited Bicester Community College with Cole's Bookstore, to talk to students from years 7, 8 and 9 about my route to becoming an author. A couple of weeks later I was delighted to receive an envelope full of letters thanking me for the visit. I recorded this video message to say "thank you" in return.
Monday, 3 June 2013
|Mark Lowery, Cathy MacPhail, Debbie Leslie, |
some bald fella and Barry Hutchinson
The award was the start of a mini tour of the area for me …
|taking in Ellon and Northfield, where |
I met Frankie – Guardian of the Library!
|Heading north up to Elgin and Speyside …|
|Then back down to Torry.|
After a quick introduction to my journey to becoming an author and the background to 15 Days, I started the group at Mearns Academy on a workshop I call "Crossing the Line." I've done this exercise with a number of groups and I'm always impressed by the ideas the students come up with – some very funny, others filled with real drama and emotion – and often find myself thinking: I wish I'd thought of that! This group were no exception and I was particularly struck by how much writing they achieved in the short time available.
|Daniel, that bald bloke again, John, Connor and Scott |
– in the library at Mearns.
A week or so after returning to the attic, I received an email from Mr Paterson, the librarian at Mearns, telling me that the group had finished off the workshop in their next English lesson. I was delighted when he sent me some pictures and few extracts of the students' work.
Chloe wrote a gripping piece set in the moments after her character had been forced to kill. The writing was full of vivid description with some lovely delicate touches – "His soft fur moved smoothly through my fingers".
Andrew's extract was from the point of view of soldier forced into his first kill, and the horror and shame he feels afterwards. His writing was urgent and hard, but there was some real empathy in the piece too. The soldier thinks of his victim: "He probably hadn't signed up for this either." A great piece of writing.
|Some of the students' writing |
on display in the library
Millie has a good ear for authentic dialogue and her writing pulled me right into the action. The scene was set in the children's ward of a hospital and Millie managed to capture the essence of the location superbly – "most of the kids were full of energy, bouncing about and having fun with their friends. My little brother was in a room by himself. He looked helpless and lonely." A really poignant and heart-felt piece of writing.
Thanks again to all the students for their great work and to Mr Paterson and Mrs Donald for sharing the results with me.
I had a great time at all the schools I visited in Scotland. Much appreciation to all the staff and students for making me so welcome. Special mentions to Marion, Katie, Fiona, Rosie and Neil, and my publisher Oxford University Press for their support.