I thoroughly enjoy talking about history and creative writing and I am available by arrangement.
A Berlin Love Song:
My latest novel is set in the Second World War and is a novel for young adults/adults, and is therefore particularly suitable for GCSE, AS and A Level History students and their equivalent. It covers important themes of the 1930s and 1940s including life on the Home Front in Germany, Hitler’s persecution of minorities and what it meant to be a member of the Hitler Youth. It explores the experiences of the Romani Community in concentration camps in the 1940s and attempts to address what Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, called ‘the forgotten holocaust.’ I have done a huge amount of research into these areas of interest and will present an interactive talk tailored to the needs of the National Curriculum.
Medieval mysteries for younger children:
I tell the children about the sorts of things that inspire me to write and about how I think up my ideas. I have a talk about death and disease in Elizabethan times and the exotic cures they used for various ailments. These range from herbal medicine, to cockerels’ windpipes for sore throats or even hedgehogs testicles for bedwetting! The children are invited to dig into my mystery bag (if they dare) and pull out some ‘miracle cures’! I even have some medieval urine for school children to taste as the doctors did in those days (no parents have complained so far!) and a plague doctor’s mask that the children can try on. I also talk about sixteenth century witch trials and witch hunts. This goes down particularly well with boys who love to drool over the illustrations of the instruments of torture that I bring with me. The children seem to enjoy the fact that my talks are very interactive and we all have a good laugh. I think that they learn quite a bit of history along the way and also go home with some tips for their own creative writing. Talks last up to one hour and are for a maximum of two classes (60 children). The smaller the group, the better the talk. Small groups mean that more children have a chance to participate.
I also run a creative writing workshop. I talk to the children about how to structure a story. With the aid of lots of pictures to inspire their imaginations, we talk about how to write with all our senses and how to create atmosphere. The children then go off and have a go at writing about one of my pictures and after about twenty minutes we pause to see how everyone has got on. Those willing to share their work are encouraged to read out what they have written so far. I have had some very rewarding sessions where the teachers involved have sent me photocopies of the ‘finished products’ a week or so after my visit. Some of the work has been wonderful. These sessions run from 45 minutes to one hour.
Charges and books for Sale
If you would like to talk about a possible author visit, please email me. My fees are in line with The Society of Authors’ guidelines. Students often like to take a signed copy of one of my books home with them. I can arrange to bring books myself or alternatively you can liaise with a local bookshop. They are usually happy to provide books for you, which I can sign for the students. Please gently remind them to bring in the money on the day. Most students think that the books belong to me personally and that all the profits go to me. They are very surprised when I tell them that they belong to the publisher and that I can’t just give them away!