King's Hall Get Writing Tips from Renowned Authors
Last week, as part of our Arts Week celebrations, we welcomed renowned British authors, Abi Elphinstone and Marcus Sedgwick, to the school.
Leading children’s author Abi, best known for her Dreamcatcher series, entertained Years 4-6 as well as pupils invited to join us from St George’s Primary School with a wonderfully engaging presentation, giving the children a special insight into her books and work as a writer.
Growing up, Abi’s ambition was not to become author, but rather a unicorn! Raised in Scotland, she took solace in her wild surroundings and this certainly became a strong influence in many of her novels, and in part, her desire to become a mythical creature.
It was fascinating to hear all about Abi’s adventurous travels, for example, her trip to Mongolia, where she spent time with young eagle huntress, Aisholpan. According to her tales, it was so cold during the evenings that her eyelids would freeze shut during the night, and the paw prints of wolves could be seen encircling the camp each morning.
Abi stressed that inspiration for writing can be found in everyday places, if you only take the time to look around you. For example, a frozen spider’s web was the inspiration behind a scene in her 2018 novel Sky Song.
To summarise her points, Abi had three key pieces of advice for our budding authors:
- Always carry a notebook to write down creative ideas that pop into your head.
- Live a life full of adventure.
- Never be afraid to fail.
Her final point was particularly inspiring, as Abi revealed to the pupils that she had received a mind-boggling 96 rejection letters before having her first book published, reinforcing the point that children should never give up what they enjoy doing.
In the afternoon, Year 5 took part in a creative writing workshop with Abi in the woods. During this, she showed the children how to create their very own story worlds, which they then drew and annotated.
They took inspiration from locations that they found on old maps to devise original and atmospheric names. Her energetic approach to writing left everyone; both children and adults, feeling totally inspired!
Two days later, Year 8 had the fantastic opportunity to speak directly with acclaimed author, Marcus Sedgwick. Marcus has written around 40 books and is known to be one leading British writers for young people today.
With our classes currently reading his books Floodland and The Foreshadowing as part of the school curriculum, the pupils prepared their own questions for Marcus, who was speaking to us via Skype from his writing room in the French Alps.
He spoke passionately about the inspiration behind some of his books, about the different genres that he writes, and about how being an author was not something he initially aspired to. Having spent time working as a teacher and in the publishing industry, he came to writing later on in life, and he explained that, for him, writing is less of a choice but more of something he feels compelled to do.
We are extremely grateful to Abi and Marcus for bringing their writing to life in our very own library and now look forward to welcoming more artists, authors and illustrators to the school over the coming months.