My first book was published in 1998.  That’s right, kids.  The last century!  And ever since, I’ve been visiting schools and appearing in theatres and at literary festivals throughout the UK and beyond. I’ve been to literally hundreds of schools, including schools as far afield as Dubai, Oman, Qatar and Nigeria, speaking to thousands of children, of all ages, from nursery, all the way through to Y11s.

Coming from a background in stand-up comedy, my ‘normal’ sessions tend to be more of a performance.  It’s basically a show.  My aim is to engage with my audience and in doing so, hopefully smash certain stereotypes about what authors are supposed to be like.  I try to demonstrate that books and reading can actually be fun and 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!

My normal session/visit, will typically include a bit of chat, a bit of singing, a bit of reading, a Q&A and quite a bit 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 in a theatre.

But just because that’s what I normally do, doesn’t mean that’s all I can do.  I like to think that I’m nothing if not adaptable.  So, I’m just as happy doing a nice gentle storytelling session with a group of 5-year-olds, as I am having an informal chat, with a bunch of 16-year-olds.  Having tutored adults on a couple of Arvon courses, I can also do creative writing workshops, if required.

And if you’re looking for something, not covered above?  Just ask.

Age-wise?  I’m happy talking to pretty much any age-group.  Having said that, the full-on, rock ‘n’ roll performances probably work best for Y3 – Y7 inc.  And the more informal chats/workshops work best with smaller numbers, say 20-30ish.  But everything’s flexible.  Nothing’s set in stone.  So, again, just ask.

Fees?  Well, a day in your school will cost £450 + return travel from and to Edinburgh + accommodation, where applicable/necessary.  That might consist of one or two of the big performances, plus smaller chats/workshops/whatever.  But we can talk about that, nearer the time.

I can also do half-days, although that might depend on my schedule and whether or not I can tie it in with another nearby school.  Or perhaps a school, either on the way, or not a million miles out the way.

At the time of writing – May 2021 – I can also offer online/virtual visits.  I’ve done plenty during Lockdown – and whilst a little bit different – and a lot less frenetic and ‘wacky,’ they seem to work perfectly well.  At least, I haven’t had any complaints yet. 

How do virtual visits 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.  I can then talk about a specific book. I can also do a reading, as well as answering questions, if I get them in advance.  One video would be £60.  Four videos would be £200.

The other option would be a live virtual visit, via Zoom, or similar.  It’s obviously not possible to recreate the atmosphere of a live performance.  In my experience, what works best, is a general chat, possibly a reading, followed by a slightly longer than normal Q&A.  A 40-minute session like this, would cost £100.

 

‘Just received the video and I really can’t thank you enough.  It’s absolutely superb. The kids are going to be amazed when they see it that they get a mention.  I’m so excited just to show them. It will really add to our World Book Day.’

 

‘The video message is absolutely amazing!!! Thanks so much. The students are going to love it!’

 

‘I was ‘the gran’ who was at your visit last week. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your interaction with the kids. I was there to support my grandson who is dyslexic. He finds reading difficult so in turn doesn’t read much. I’ve never heard him go on about books so much. You made a real impression on him!’

 

‘What a morning!  Thank you for keeping me so very entertained at The Wyvern Theatre this morning, such a joy and I can’t wait to read about Norm. Students were inspired and lots of lovely chat on the way home :)’

 

‘I’m organising events for World Book Day. You visited my previous school. When I was thinking of a way to inspire pupils to love reading, you immediately popped into my mind.’

 

‘My school has received a grant from the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in order to fund an author visit. I remember taking my three children to see you a few years ago at the Wigtown Book Festival. We thought you were fabulous.’

 

‘It completely changed the pupils’ perception of authors and writing.  Jonathan made it sound enjoyable, rewarding and fun.  The children got so much out of it.  He was funny and entertaining and made it seem ‘cool’ to write.  I was particularly pleased he appealed to the boys and the effect that this will hopefully have on one or two more reluctant readers.’

 

‘It was valuable for the children to meet an author who was not like a teacher or a staid adult, but who was also funny and entertaining.  I was particularly pleased that Jonathan appealed to the boys and the effect that this will hopefully have on one or two more reluctant readers.’

 

Hi Jonathan you inspired me. I never realised how fun an author could be.
Nicola.

 

Great show. I saw you yesterday and all i can say is wow. Lots of authors are boring but you are on a different level ….in a good way of course!!
Aidan aged 11.

 

You are not what we expected you were much better. Your poems were brill. Everyone wants you to come again.
Chelsie, 13.

 

I really enjoyed your talk because I expected some old, posh, boring guy but you were fun and entertaining.