I've done several author visits to date. Most have had small groups working on some element of creative writing and a Q&A session. I'm happy with that. It works and I'm comfortable doing it.
In the last few weeks, I've had lots of requests for author talks - which is pretty fab, actually. (I've also seen a reasonable spike in sales of paperback copies of StarMark since the magazine article - perhaps the two are linked?)
Over the next couple of months, as well as trying to write more of CKD, I will also be...
1. Giving two author visits to secondary schools as part of the Loogabarooga Festival, which happens over Leicestershire's half term.
2. Giving a talk to a ladies group at my church. (I say talk, but they WILL be writing at some point...)
3. Running a creative writing day at my local primary school, similar to the one I ran last year.
4. Following up enquiries from another local primary school and a secondary school book club a bit further from home...plus two other secondary schools have shown interest too.
5. Speaking to a church youth group.
6. Putting a booking in my diary as a speaker for October - 2017!
All lovely and exciting - but look back at number 1 on my list...
The first of these visits to be confirmed is actually going to be at a school I attended, over thirty years ago. I have been asked to speak to an entire year group of Year 7's (11-12yrs old). That's one hundred and twenty pupils. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY! Because the school has stated it would like as many pupils as possible to be enthused and inspired by my visit.
No pressure there then!
(Fortunately, I have delivered - in a previous life! - training sessions to similar numbers of adults, so I am confident I can deliver a good assembly-type talk about writing and some of the journey I've been on so far. Oh - and afterwards? I'm holding a one-hour workshop for one class in the library...)
I find it quite humbling - and very scary - to be viewed as an inspiration.
I think it's because I'm still getting to grips with the fact that I am viewed by other people now as a proper author (I know, I AM one, but compared to other authors who sell hundreds or thousands of copies and make their living from the art, I'm such a small fish...) I'm discovering that it's the relationship you can have with your readers - or potential readers in most cases - that makes the difference in how you are viewed as an author. I can sit in my lounge and write all the good stories I can, but it's when I talk to children, help them to grow and learn in their own attempts at writing creatively, that I reap the rewards - and I'm not talking purely of sales here. I'm talking about reputation, about word of mouth recommendation, about delivering a quality product, whether that ends up being an author visit or a novel. And I'm also talking about the feedback I get, when pupils return the their classrooms and put into practise what we have covered with massively increased confidence.
It goes right back to my original motivation - enthusing children to love the written word, whether they are creating it for themselves or reading it when it's been written by another.
I am nervous of the task I face, but equally I am excited to have such a large audience on a single occasion. I really, really hope I can give them something to remember.