This week, Years 5, 6 and 7 were treated to a live Skype “Question and Answer” session with one of King’s Hall’s very favourite children’s authors, Katherine Rundell. There was great excitement as, through the wonders of technology, Katherine joined us in the Woodard Room to chat about her books, the inspiration behind them and her top tips for young aspiring writers. The Year 6 Library Monitor team were splendid and did a wonderful job of putting questions to our guest author.
Katherine explained how, as a child, she was a very keen reader (with eating and acrobatics being her other childhood passions!) She advised our budding writers to read all sorts of fiction, even trying out books that at first sight they are sure they won’t like, as they might discover a gem along the way. She also suggested writing a diary, perhaps in the format of just a single sentence a day, and advised everyone to steal events from our lives to put into our stories, making those events bigger and more extraordinary. Above all, she said that writers are daydreamers: “If you can daydream, you can be a writer.” Lots of us in the audience decided that we were excellent daydreamers so, who knows, perhaps there is a future author within our ranks!
The children were mesmerised by Katherine’s stories of her trip to the Amazon rainforest to research her Costa award-winning book, The Explorer. We heard about her experiences swimming with pink river dolphins, fishing for (and even swimming with) piranhas and hunting tarantulas. We also heard how she spent time with real wolves in preparation for writing The Wolf Wilder, even riding on a dog sled to find out exactly how this would feel.
The inspiration for Katherine’s book Rooftoppers came from a time when she crept through a trap door above the library in her Oxford college, emerging onto the roof and discovering a bottle that had been left there some years before. This led her to wonder, what if someone was living there, undetected? Ultimately, she said every story has a “what if” at its heart. We are all very excited about her next book which will have a circus setting and will be about a heist performed by a group of children.
Finally, Katherine’s tips for King’s Hall writers were as follows:
- Let yourself write badly. You can always make bad writing good, but no writing will always be no writing.
- Start thinking, “What if?” and never let anyone tell you that your stories are too unlikely, as real life can be far more extraordinary than anyone would imagine.
- Editing is very important so don’t be afraid to make changes to your work.
- Sometimes writing is hard, so be persistent and never give up (Sometimes, when she is struggling with her writing, Katherine ties herself to her chair with a skipping rope to remind herself to keep going!)
Thank you so much, Katherine, for chatting with our pupils; it was a very special morning that we will never forget.
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