I’m engaging – from beginning to end.
I’m an experienced, professional speaker offering stimulating talks in schools, libraries and festivals in the UK and abroad. My talks are mainly on writing, character, voice, diversity, identity, inclusion, life in other countries as well as here, my books and being an author.
I want to promote and encourage reading and literacy as well as writing. Writing anything that is: journals, scrapbooks about football, whatever. I talk about my books but I also try to encourage writing and reading in general, and as I was not a fiction writer as a child but wrote about what I loved, it’s a good way to encourage writing with more reluctant pupils.
My area of specialty is identity, race and culture. Stories and narratives play a crucial role in overcoming discrimination, racism and prejudice as narratives help us understand ourselves, each other and especially ‘the other’. One of my protagonists is mixed race and the other adopted from an orphanage in Asia. I write and talk about being different, issues of belonging, non-traditional families, diverse cultures, aspirations and dreams, how to deal with obstacles and challenges, discrimination and how to deal with it, coping with adversity and making it a positive experience, changing the world for the better, and being kind and helping one another.
Writing and hearing each other’s stories goes a long way in promoting empathy and tolerance, nurtures exploration into our racial, religious and cultural identities and the lenses through which we see the world and how this flavours our writing, and allows us to share them and our experiences. There has never been more need for us to talk and write across our divides and our connections, for all voices to be heard, and for us to see each other.
The main themes of my talk promote and encourage three goals of Aim 1 of the National Curriculum:
The school curriculum should contribute to the development of pupils’ sense of identity through knowledge and understanding of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritages of Britain’s diverse society and of the local, national, European, Commonwealth and global dimensions of their lives.
It should encourage pupils to appreciate human aspirations and achievements in aesthetic, scientific, technological and social fields, and prompt a personal response to a range of experiences and ideas.
By providing rich and varied contexts for pupils to acquire, develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, understanding and skills, the curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and to make a difference for the better.
And five goals of Aim 2:
The school curriculum should promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and, in particular, develop principles for distinguishing between right and wrong.
It should develop their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of their own and different beliefs and cultures, and how these influence individuals and societies.
The school curriculum should pass on enduring values, develop pupils’ integrity and autonomy and help them to be responsible and caring citizens capable of contributing to the development of a just society.
It should promote equal opportunities and enable pupils to challenge discrimination and stereotyping.
It should enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and adversity.
I usually visit Years 4-7 as these are optimum ages for the kind of books I write, but I can do writing workshops with students of any age. I do not have a maximum or minimum requirement for the talks, although more than 300 is difficult, especially without a microphone, and for workshops no more than 30.
At schools, my preference is to do a full or half day that could include writing workshops and one, two or three hour-long talks.
My talks and workshops can also be modified for different requirements:
For a talk oriented to careers’ week, I focus mainly on being an author as a career, how to do it, what you need, what my day is like, what I did before, how I get my ideas, how to generate stories, and the pay.
For a Book Week talk, I focus on characters, books and storytelling.
For workshops on story writing, I focus on generating ideas and characters, finding your voice and editing your work.
For Inset Days, I focus on how to encourage and promote writing in the classroom and offer tools and resources for teachers.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
I have a Masters with Distinction in writing and host the Literary Club at New York University in London, where students submit their work and read it at an end-of-semester reading event with guest poets and authors. I have given talks and workshops at other colleges and universities on writing and getting published, writing techniques, fiction styles and literary analysis, and finding not just ‘your voice’, but all of the many voices that fill your world.
I’m also an English language and literature teacher working in a school and hold a current DBS.
School visits work best when the children are excited about meeting me (and know I’m coming and who I am when they sit down in the hall…). If you can read all or part of my book before I come in, it really makes a difference. You can find the opening chapters on my page on the Chicken House website.
Having an author visit your school is amazing – none ever came into my school and I’d have loved that – and it’s even cooler when they sign your book. If you would like to have books on sale, I arrange with local bookshops to sell them on the day and ask the school to send a letter out asking the children to bring money in. Bookshops are dying a painful death and we need to save them. Soon they may be extinct.
My fees are
£75 for 45 min or £100 an hour if the talk is online
£350 for half a day (plus travel if it’s outside Brighton)
£500 for a full a day (plus travel if outside Brighton).