Last Thursday, I spent an evening with a church youth group in Sileby, talking about writing.
I'd been invited to go by a friend who helps run teh youth group - I've known J for many years, ever since my brother was in his scout unit and Mr Squidge (still just someone I admired from afar at that stage!) was in J's Venture Scout unit. J was also very good friends with some of my school mates, and we all used to go together to a youth group on a Friday night. In fact, I have hazy memories of putting on a performance and having to rock and roll with J...
Anyway, J had thought the 'youth' in the group might find it interesting to hear about what I'd been up to.
Have to say, it goes down as the first author talk I've given where pizza was on the menu! I think I'm going to request it at every talk I do in the future... *winks*
There weren't many of us in the lovely large social centre: just seven young folk between the ages of maybe 11 and 16, plus three or four adults - one of whom is in the early stages of a PhD to study how older people are portrayed in children's literature. (That led to some interesting conversation!) And would you believe that two of the children, I'd already met at another author talk? They were pupils of St. Crispin's School in Leicester, which I'd visited back in March.
Anyway, we got started and I introduced myself before moving onto a timeline of my writing, using the books I'd been published in as props. I quite impressed myself, actually - there was quite a stack to work through, even without including where I'd been published in a purely digital format.
I also took along some of my notebooks, complete with scribbles and crossings out and maps and castle plans, along with my 'box-a-day-of-writing' plan to show how I create the outline of a story before typing it up. We also had the opportunity for a Q&A session, but the youngsters were all a bit shy, so most of the questions came from the adults.
I set the youngsters off on a writing exercise, using the starter 'The antique glass bottle contained...' As always, I was really pleased that everyone was willing to give it a go, whatever their ability. Mind maps, sketches and notes were used to outline some stories, and some stories were written straight off the cuff. Some of the ideas were absolute corkers - and if I wasn't the writer of integrity that I am, I'd have loved to have pinched a few of them!
Everyone seemed to go home happy - and full of pizza - at the end of the session, and that's all I could have asked for, really.
Roll on the next one!