Saturday, 7 June 2014

paperback writer

We have been read to, written for, laughed, clapped, been inspired and fallen silent whilst reading new books from discovered writers at TwickersTowers over the last two weeks.

First off, in the midst of a rainy but exhilarating camping trip to glorious Gloucestershire during half term, we took a break and some shelter at the Hay Festival. As a dream writer (you know, where you have fab ideas in your dreams but never seem to have a moments peace to scribble it all down) I have been desperate to get over to Hay-on-Wye to soak up the literati. Thinly disguised as 'Oh the kids will love it, there will be so much to do' we wellied up and booked the 3G into sessions at Hay Fever - the children's part of the Festival.

And I am still patting myself on the back for this decision. Along with some friends of the big and small variety, we threw children into different marquees and rooms for sessions by authors. The favourites, who had our kids smiling, howling with laughter and tittering about 'bottoms' , 'poo' and 'farts' for the rest of the day were:

Steve Cole - we are loving the Secret Agent Mummy series, but there is so much more from this guy. We hadn't heard of him before the Festival, but he's now a TwickersTowers favourite.

Martin Brown: who illustrates the Horrible Histories books so there was no discussion at all about going to see him. I am amazed how many facts the 3G remember through gruesome songs! But it works and they are learning about different eras that I probably wouldn't have thought of even mentioning.

Tommy Donvaband  now this fella was brilliant. The kids had already devoured his Scream Street series and were chomping at the bit for the Fangs series. And having a photo him was the icing on the cake - an author who made time to chat to his readers, and make them feel special. Nice work! Here's BigL having her hair pulled by Tommy. She's a little shy, our BigL, but talked about this moment all the way back to the tent!

So that was Hay, we are definitely making that a permanent in our family calendar...and now for Richmond. 

BigL has been attending writing workshops after school with LittleStarWriting for the last term and is loving it. Her confidence and enjoyment with her creative writing in increasing every week.  She doesn't tell me much about it, and I don't ask too much - it's her thing you know. But how proud was she showing me her epic story all typed up and ready to submit for the 2014 LittleStarWriting book? So even though she couldn't attend today's LSW festival because she's a rugby camp with GeordieLad, she wanted me to go with MiddleS and LittleE to see what I could bring back.
Set in leafy Richmond we were entertained by Laura Dockrill, an imaginative imaginarium of ideas, brimming with energy and advice for would-be writers. I so wish BigL had been there. She was honest and such a positive beacon for the youngsters telling them they can be guided in their writing, but not in their imaginations - which is theirs; and that they shouldn't worry about what people will think of them, that it's important to be different.  And the most brilliant revelation that if you want to be a writer you may think that you need to know Stephen Fry, David Attenborough and know the whole back catalogue of Shakespeare but actually this isn't true!  You know all I can say about her is - why wasn't there someone around like her when I was a young wannabe writer.

And then super Steve Cole again, launching onto stage a la bad Spiderman, and dishing out stories, laughs, advice about writing: ever thought of using a poem to help you start writing. We loved his Stinky Alien song.  And linking to his Astrosaurus series - experiment with squishing two words together to make brand new creatures or inventions or worlds. And also about writing other things apart from poems and stories - as a teacher that is a great piece of advice to use with children who really struggle with fiction. 

And it was all washed down with an imaginative q&a sesh with questions tagged onto balloons! It would have been nice to have the kids ask some of the questions written on the labels - but hey ho, what a fab idea!

No longer a newbie to literary festivals, we bought our books prior to the interval and pre-signing scramble. MiddleS swooped down on Aliens Stink and I bought BigL the first Darcy Burdock book - and already know she's gonna be asking for the second  book in a matter of days. We got the books signed and piccies were taken - all with friendly banter and patient smiles for the queue of young readers. Kudos to you both and marvellous work to lovely Mel from LittleStarWriting who organised the whole event.

 If you are fortunate to have LSW at your school -get your child in, and if you are a teacher I definitely recommend them. Never mind inspiring youngsters today, a rather long in the tooth - keeper of teen dreams has just been given a boost to finish the fledging tales at long last.

Top day. Quick home made pizzas and off to bed early to start on the new stories!

Good night London, wherever you are.

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