One of the things I was most nervous about when I found out I was going to be an author was school visits. Standing up in front of a roomful of students and talking to them for an hour? Pretty scary stuff – especially considering I still feel like a kid myself!
My own school days seem like a few blinks ago. I still remember the joy of PE, the smell of food in the canteen, the squeak of shoes on the hall. In my head, I’m just a kid. What could I have to say to anyone?
Turns out, there was nothing to worry about. I’ve been working with the fantastic folks at Pea Green Boat Books and popping into schools around London, and every single visit has been brilliant.
Check out all those books! They look pretty awesome, eh? Seeing one copy of Stonebird was a good feeling, but having it stacked up in glorious piles like that? It felt pretty special.
You can just about read the print on the cover that says “Believe in the magic of stories.” That’s sort of what Stonebird is all about – the magic of stories. And even though I knew how powerful stories could be (It took REAL magic to get me reading when I was 11), talking to the different year groups in schools has given me an even better appreciation for that magic.
One of the first things I bring up in every visit is Harry Potter. Because I wouldn’t be here, writing this blog, doing these visits, if it wasn’t for that book. It’s pretty scary to think that Philosopher’s Stone came out 17 years ago. People all over the world loved it back then. But nearly every single person in every single class in every single school also loves it today.
Seventeen years on, and Hogwarts is still getting people reading.
So I’ve been talking about how Harry Potter turned me into a reader, then into a writer. And that leads nicely to Stonebird – talking about gargoyles and magic, and reading from the book.
My favourite reading to do is early on, when Liam meets the gargoyle for the first time, after creeping through the moonlit grounds of the rundown church. Because after that – after seeing the gargoyle in the book – I’ve been doing a drawing exercise, getting the audience to shout out animal parts and then cobbling together a TERRIFYING gargoyle!
These are some of the best ones this week: