On Friday I ran a workshop at the Cabot Federation Conference attended by 1200 teachers. Luckily only 40 of them came to my session, because that made it unruly enough. It was a bit of a risk to make adults join in with the storymaking I do with Year 5 but I went at it with gusto and, with the help of a few joiner-inners, we ended up having proper belly laughs. The story was no great shakes, basically Solid Dave and Saphire (yes, teachers can’t spell) got lost in a book (physically not metaphorically) and had to battle Hamlet in a graveyard, dive down the plughole and escape certain cannibalism via fire. Everyday stuff. Judging by the kind comments afterwards, teachers quite like being treated like ten-year olds. It made a nice change to both talk to adults, and to use my dustbin full of props again. The events I do to promote my YA novels in secondary schools still have plenty of interaction and flip-chart mayhem, but pulling skulls and rubber ducks out of a bin doesn’t have a place. Shame. Maybe I’ll reintroduce it . . .
The day before my audience consisted of two groups of Year 8 girls from Nottingham Girls’ School, and a lovely bunch they were too. (And less unruly.) The first session was unexpectedly small as, for some unfathomable reason, a smattering had gone to Latin, forgetting I was there. The downside was that we started late. The upside was that we got to have a chat, which is always nice because teenagers can be loathe to put their hands up and join in, but once they’d realised I was quite funny (in an unhinged but not threatening way) (and I’d been complimented on my new culotte dress) we were cruising. Every single time I visit a school I learn something – this time I had a drone expert in the audience. I offered her a job as my sidekick but she didn’t seem that keen.
When I got back to Bristol, good news was waiting for me from the Wirral. Back in March eight authors had travelled far and wide to attend a daylong event with teenagers from eight schools. Each shortlisted author gave a talk followed by a Q&A. The pupils then had a few months to read the books before voting, and absolutely fabulously they chose Hacked. Thrilled.
All in all, a good week. Topped off by Andy Murray.