Organising author visits in schools is one of the best things about being a school librarian. I know my children are very lucky that we take them to literary festivals and to the theatre; for most children, author school visits is often their only opportunity to meet a writer “in the flesh” and it is a very rewarding thing to organise. It is also a very stressful thing to organise, as so many things can go wrong, such as:
* the author does not turn up. This actually happened to me once. It wasn’t the author’s fault at all. He had woken up early that morning to drive to my school only to realise he had such a bad back he couldn’t actually get out of bed! I was only told as I got to work that morning, and so a ten minute absolute panic moment ensued, before I eventually calmed down and realised there was little I could do about it!
* the author does not relate to the students. If teenagers feel they are being talked down to, or they are being taken for idiots, they do not like it. And it becomes quite obvious, fairly quickly!
* the students do not behave. Eeek, this is my worst nightmare. Teenagers can be flippant to say the least, and I have had a really bad experience a long, long time ago which still gives me cold sweats. Often this can be related to the above: if they are bored, they play up!
* nobody asks questions. Teenagers can be so self-conscious that even if they are dying to ask a question, they might not. This is can be so awkward when you have an author standing in front of an audience and nobody will ask a question. But then you can have the opposite problem: there are also those who ask inappropriate and silly questions (how much do you earn? What car do you drive?)
* nobody buys a book. That has never happened to me, thankfully, but I cringe slightly at the thought!
Anyway, none of the above apply to the lovely day I had yesterday with Cat Clarke and Niamh, her publicist at Quercus. In fact it was a fab day. We were really lucky to be included in Cat’s Entangled book tour (see my review of Entangled here) so I took Cat to three local schools, including my own, and it was a great success. Cat was really down to earth, really approachable and the students really responded to that. It was really interesting to hear about her background in publishing and I think she got a lot of brownie points from the students with her knowledge of YA literature and the fact that she wore a beanie hat and some kick-ass boots!!!
Both my children when in awe when I came home that:
1) Cat used to be the editor of Horrible Histories; that’s equivalent to rock star status for my son!
2) she is editing an activity book on the Royal Wedding for 5/6 year-olds; that’s a dream come true for my daughter!
Lots of interesting chats were had (and some more random ones, such as the joys of wearing brightly-coloured shoes with Niamh) and quite a few laughs too. It was a really fantastic day and I was very chuffed to have met these two lovely people. So thank you so much for coming to see us!