School Visits

I wrote a post a few months ago about how much fun I had visiting schools and talking all about Alice Jones, writing mysteries and creating fantastic new detectives with some amazing student sleuths.

So I am very excited to now have an official School Visit page on my website. So if you are a teacher, or librarian, or student who wants me to come give a talk or lead a writing workshop check it out!

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My bright new business cards!

As the daughter of teachers, I know that schools don’t have a dedicated author visit budget (wouldn’t that be wonderful) so while I do charge for in person visits, I also offer free 30 minute Skype Q&A’s for classes that read one of my books.  (Also fantastic if you’re a school on the other side of the Atlantic-America, I’m looking at you!)

If you are interested, please get in touch. You can contact me here. And if you know a student, teacher or librarian who you think would be interested, please pass my details along. Hopefully I will see some of you soon!

 

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Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day Everyone! 

Since The Ghost Light came out in January, I’ve been having a lot of fun visiting schools and talking all about my love of mysteries and maths and the amazing Alice Jones. It’s been a new experience for me, since when my first two books came out I’d just had a baby, and so far it’s been fantastic!

Feeling like a super-star!

I’ve been so impressed by all of the students I’ve gotten to meet: Their questions and curiosity is so inspiring. And I have a feeling I’ve met more than a few future authors.

A skill anyone hoping to become a writer needs, is the ability to create compelling characters. One of my favorite bits during a school visit  is when a few brave volunteers dress up and I and the audience use their costumes (and our imagination) to turn them into a unique detective.

We give them strengths (are they brave? smart? well-prepared?) and weaknesses (a good character needs some flaws) and a special crime solving skill, Then we imagine what kind of crime they might come across? What clues would they notice that others might overlook? And  how will they be challenged by their weaknesses?

So far I’ve seen:

  • A detective with amazing eyesight, who is so sleepy she can barely stay awake.
  • A detective who is an expert horse rider, but who can’t swim (the students decided dropping a vital clue at the bottom of the swimming pool would be the perfect challenge)
  • A master of disguise with horrible fashion sense (we thought a mystery in a fancy-dress shop would be perfect!)

I’m off on another visit today, and I can’t wait to see what detectives we come up with!

Pick a prop. What does it say about your detective?

If any of you are interested in developing your own detective, here’s the worksheet that goes with the exercise. I’d love to see who you come up with. Happy Sleuthing!

It WAS a Mystery-The Cheltenham Literary Festival

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This past October I got to take part in the Cheltenham Literary Festival! I did an event called It’s a Mystery with the very talented Katherine Woodfine (author of The Clockwork Sparrow and The Jewelled Moth). It was my first literary festival, so everything was very new and exciting. I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have, but here are a few:

Getting ready for the big day with book themed outfit and nails. (I also reviewed all of my notes and outlines for Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue and Alice Jones: The Ghost Light-but that would be a very boring photo.)

Here’s my official ‘Presenter Wristband’–

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–so the organizers knew I was meant to be in the writers tent and hadn’t sneaked in to gawp at the real celebrities or eat the free food. Cheltenham Festivals did an amazing job feeding us, by the way, I felt very fancy!

The event itself was in The Little Big Top, an amazing venue!

 

And here we are onstage, ready to talk all about mysteries!

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Alex O’Connell introducing Katherine Woodfine and me.

The event itself was the best part! Our moderator, Alex O’Connell of The Times, asked really interesting questions (How we came up with our characters, the differences between American and British mysteries, what makes a good baddie and how we plot our crimes). Having a seasoned speaker like Katherine up there helped me feel a lot less nervous. BUT, the thing that made the event SO FANTASTIC was the ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS audience!

They had great ideas on what makes a good detective (bravery, smarts, attention to detail, ready for anything) and wonderful questions at the end of the session-both about mysteries and about being a writer. I think we definitely had some future mystery authors in the tent!

On a more personal note, it was a lot of fun to share what I do with my family. I think being a writer can seem very ambiguous, and very boring to people living with an author. After all, when my kids see me working all they see is me frowning at a computer screen, fingers pecking away at the keys. After seeing me onstage, my son has a much better idea of what I do, and he thinks it’s pretty cool.

‘Mummy, maybe I’ll be a writer like you when I grow up.’

And that’s probably the best bit of all.

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‘Mummy, you’re actually kind of cool.’ (I’m enjoying it while it lasts)

It’s A Mystery!

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I’m very excited to be speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival next month. I’m doing a panel with Katherine Woodfine all about mysteries and how we write them. Katherine is the author of the fabulous Clockwork Sparrow and Jewelled Moth Mysteries as well as host of Down The Rabbit Hole, a radio show all about kids books.  Our moderator is Alex O’Connell, The Times’ Arts editor. I am feeling very fancy.

This will be my first festival appearance and I’m equal parts nervous and thrilled. I’ve been having a lot of fun, though, going through all of the notes I made before writing The Impossible Clue and The Ghost Light (the next Alice Jones mystery) and  trying to figure out what the secret to writing a gripping mystery really is. If I figure it out, I promise to share.

It’s a Mystery will be on 8 October at 5pm in the Little Big Top. If you’re interested in coming to see me, you can find out more and book tickets here.

You can find out what other great events are going on at the festival here.