My first book was published way back in 1998. That’s right, kids. The last century! When dinosaurs roamed the earth. OK, maybe not quite that long ago. But ever since then, I’ve been regularly visiting schools and performing in theatres and at literary festivals throughout the UK and beyond. In the past year or so, I’ve visited schools in Dubai, Oman, Qatar and Nigeria, speaking to thousands of children, of all ages, from nursery, all the way through to Y11s.
I use the term, performing, because, coming from a theatrical and comedy background, my sessions/talks/whatever you want to call them, tend to take the form of a performance, rather than a lecture. It’s basically a show. Why? Because I’m a big smelly show-off, that’s why. I like nothing better than making a school hall-ful, or theatre full of children laugh. I like to engage with my audience and hopefully, smash one or two myths and stereotypes about what authors are supposed to be like. More importantly, I try to demonstrate that books and reading can actually be fun and furthermore, that if someone like me can end up doing what I do, then anyone can! As an author, there’s no greater compliment, than hearing that I helped inspire a reluctant reader to pick up a book. Even if it’s not one of my own books!
So, anyway, my normal session/visit, will typically include a bit of chat, a bit of music and singing, a bit of reading, a Q&A and a fair amount of mucking about. I’m equally happy doing that in front of 20 children in a library, 200 children in a school hall, or 2000 children in a theatre.
BUT – and it’s a big but – that’s not all that I can do. Having spoken, or performed in well over a thousand primary and secondary schools over the years, I like to think that I’m nothing if not adaptable. I’m equally happy doing a nice gentle storytelling session with a group of 5-year-olds, or having an informal chat, with a bunch of 16-year-olds. Having tutored adults on a couple pf courses, I can also do creative writing workshops, if required.
And if you’re looking for something, not covered above? Just ask.
Age-wise? Well, as I’ve already said, I’m happy to talk to pretty much any age-group. Having said that, the full-on, rock ‘n’ roll performance sessions probably work best for Y3 – Y7 inc. Personally, I find the informal chats/workshops work best with smaller (20/30) groups of older pupils. But we can discus that. Nothing’s set in stone.
What else? Oh yes. The cost. Well, a day in your school will cost £450 + return travel from and to Edinburgh + accommodation, where applicable/necessary + VAT. That might consist of one or two of the big performances, plus smaller chats/workshops/whatever. But like I said, I’m flexible. So again, just ask!
I can also do half-days, although that will usually depend on whether I can tie it in, with another nearby school, or not.
BUT – and that’s an even bigger but – for obvious reasons, it’s not possible for me to personally visit your school at the moment. And it’s impossible to say when that might change. So, for the foreseeable future, all visits will be conducted virtually, from the comfort of my office, at the bottom of my garden. Having already done quite a few, I can honestly say that they seem to work OK. At least, I haven’t had any complaints yet. But it’s still relatively early days.
So, how do they work?
Well, firstly, I can pre-record a series of one or more personalised videos for your school. They’re usually between 5 and 10 mins in length. I’ll say hello, have a waffle, say a little bit about myself and what I do and stuff. If you want, I can then talk about a specific book. I can also do a reading, as well as answering questions, as long as I get them in advance. One video would be £60. Four videos would be £150. How does that sound? I’m new to this, as well.
The other option would be a live Zoom call, or similar. It’s clearly impossible to recreate the atmosphere of a proper, full-on ‘show,’ this way. I find that what works, is a general intro/waffle from me – chatting, either 1-2-1, or to a larger group – followed by a much longer Q&A session than would normally be possible. A 40-minute session like this, would cost £100.
I think that’s it. Any questions?