On Tuesday I headed for Retford in North-West Nottinghamshire for a visit to Retford Oaks School in order to talk about my book, Last Chance Angel, and to share my love of reading and writing with two groups of thirty students. We were in the library which is actually the ideal to be when you're talking about books! The students were brilliant and Christine, the librarian, talked about setting up a creative writing group. I do hope this happens as creative writing does seem to fall by the wayside in the U.K. at secondary school level. Unfortunately I don't have any photographs of this visit as, in the rush to get out of the house in the morning, I forgot my camera!
On Wednesday, I headed for Solihull in the West Midlands. The first school was St. Peter's R.C. School where I was met by Pat Tate and Phyllis Gaunt from the Federation of Children's Books. They introduced me to the lovely Penny, the librarian and I talked to about 120 students in the hall. I was looked after brilliantly by Ben who is an ex-student at the school and an expert on all things technical. All technophobes like me need someone like Ben around! After the talk I was interviewed for the school radio and signed some books. Here's a picture of me with Jack, Rhys and Molly.
After lunch it was off to Langley School, a specialist school for performing arts. At Langley it is 'cool' to achieve and the emphasis is on relationships as the key to success. I was met by Mr. Harrison, the head of English and again supported by many people including Kim the librarian. The students were delightful and incredibly enthusiastic about the book.
Finally, on Thursday it was off to Bablake School, Coventry for an event which was part of the Coventry Festival. I talked to about 250 students, from Bablake, their junior school and Finham Park School. A gale blew outside, the roof leaked, some of the children had to move seats and I was told the Powerpoint might have to be cut off but the students were a fantastic audience despite it all!
By the time this photograph was taken with librarians Julie and Lucy, the sun had re-emerged. The vagaries of an English summer!
I have met some absolutely lovely people this week and have been overwhelmed by their generosity and the reaction to the book. If you read the papers you get the impression that teenagers are disaffected or troublesome but the ones I've met have been charming and it is so encouraging to meet so many people who are absolutely passionate about books and reading and writing.
Thank-you for reading and, for all of the right reasons, I wish you a week to remember.