When my children’s school said they were focusing on Science Fiction for Book Week this year, I had to get involved. I spoke to my son’s teacher and agreed to go in and read them a bit of Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter and answer any questions they might have about writing. I was quite nervous this morning; I’ve shared Alfie with a good number of people so far, fellow writers, beta readers, a literary consultant and of course agents but I’ve never read to such a large group before – and all of them my target audience! What if they all started yawning, or staring out the window?
I dressed for the part in a Doctor Who T shirt and a skirt with a space design. I felt more comfortable in a ‘costume’, I could pretend to be someone else a little bit. I got to school and the teacher asked if I would mind if three classes all came together to listen. From 30 children to 90! Yikes! I had about 20 minutes while the children were in assembly to prepare myself, so I sat down with my Kindle and went over what I was going to read.
I knew they were going to be working on the beginnings of stories later in the day, so I changed plans a little bit and read them the very first chapter and then skipped to the third, which is where Alfie looks at the mysterious key he’s found and starts to realise that it isn’t just a normal key. I had to take my glasses off to read from the Kindle so I couldn’t see their faces, but there wasn’t too much fidgeting and no talking, so I hope that they enjoyed it.
The teacher then asked them what they thought the key might open, and a lot of them had great ideas. A magic door, a transporter, different worlds, a space ship. They talked about the science part of the science fiction, about how Alfie realised that the key didn’t come from this world.
Then the very best part of the morning started, as I got asked lots of questions about Alfie and about writing. The children were absolutely brilliant, and asked really interesting questions.
I left floating on air! I was always a bit nervous about the idea of school visits, but now I’d love to do more of them. There is nothing like seeing a little spark of inspiration light inside a child’s eyes. I left with renewed enthusiasm to write some more.
I’m also going in to my daughters class soon (Reception) to read them a story that I’ve written especially for them about an alien visitor. I can’t wait!