The picture above is me wittering away about being a writer to a group of seven year olds. I’m the one on the chair. It’s book week at my daughter’s school, so her teacher asked whether I’d be willing to go in and talk to them for a half hour or so.
Obviously, none of my own books are suitable class reading material for seven year olds, and in selecting some to show them (look kids! I’m a real writer!) I had to rule out quite a lot of material. Thanks goodness for my entries to the canons of Doctor Who and Iris Wildthyme, is all I can see. Slim pickings would have been almost no pickings, were it not for them.
After explaining by email to the teacher what exactly I write, we’d agree that the talk should be about being a writer, and how stories get written and published, rather than my work. That was a bit of a relief. I was already imagining the complaints from other parents…
When I pitched up, the kids knew I was a writer of scary stories for grown ups. To be fair, that probably made me more exciting a prospect in their minds. I was expecting the half hour that followed to be a little strained. I mean, the writer’s process? For seven year olds?
I shouldn’t have worried. They’re a bright, capable bunch who had already studied some authors, and were able to ask and answer some questions that many of the grown ups I write for would struggle with. Not one of them – not one – asked where I get my ideas from, a question well known as the writer’s curse and the spur for many a sarcastic answer. Instead, when I asked them where they thought ideas came from, they told me they came from all around. Best and simplest answer I’ve heard in a long time. Another kid later told me writing a novel was a bit like climbing a mountain, which showed persuasive wisdom, and indicates the presence of alarming competition in the next generation.
While the strange tangents a group of kids can take you meant that I wasn’t able to cover everything I wanted to, I had a good time, and the kids seemed genuinely enthused by the whole thing. A half hour well spent.
In other news, Iris Wildthyme can be a perplexing old boot to keep up with, can’t she? Her new novel is on the shelves from one company. Her new season of full cast audio plays has been announced from another company. Her adventures in short fiction, which I have contributed to and will again this year, are ongoing from yet another company. It’s enough to spin the head. What would really help in keeping up with all these things is some sort of simple and official source of news…
Oh. There you are then.