KID'S STUFF by Ann Evans

KIDS STUFF by Ann Evans

Some favourite characters
When you write children's books, World Book Week is often a very busy week. Not that I'm complaining, because being invited into schools to work with the children, inspiring them to read, and to write creatively is just the best thing. Plus of course, it's a most welcome addition to a writer's income.

What makes it especially interesting is that every school visit is different. The way the day is worked out, the children and teachers in the classes, the activities you do, and the questions you get asked. Even though you plan your day, you're very much working off the seat of your pants. Questions come flying at you, and you need to have an instant answer – and make it interesting.

After reading an extract of The Beast, youngsters were
inspired to draw it.

Although most of my books are for 8-12 year olds and young adult, I'll often be asked to work with the little ones too – reception and years 1 and 2, who are very sweet. 

Last week on World Book Day I spent the morning with two reception classes of 25 children each, all of whom were dressed as their favourite character. So lots of Batman and Spiderman, lots of Elsa from Frozen, Snow White, Harry Potter, Iron Man – all looking so cute.

So as not to terrify these little sweeties with book covers such as Nightmare and The Reawakening, I take my polar bear teddy with me, and together we'll write an adventure story. Fun though it is, there's no fooling them. I'm quickly told that no, a polar bear's favourite food is not ice cream. They eat seals and penguins.  Oh dear! I spot a quick change of plan regarding the plot!

This was an Erdington Library visit.

Junior aged children are just brilliant to work with. They're enthusiastic, they love stories, love adventure, love mystery, love ghosts – and they particularly love scary stories.

I can guarantee that when I set my books out on display, the one they will instantly want to know about is Nightmare with its ghostly ghouly cover. It's actually meant for reluctant readers yet all abilities seem to go for it.

My Beast trilogy always goes down well too, and when there's the opportunity to sell books at the end of the school day, The Beast sells out like hot cakes. (Usborne take notice!!) The tragedy is that Usborne who published it along with The Reawakening and Rampage, chose to stop publishing and revert the rights back to me about a year ago. So annoying when kids love the books!

So now I'm preparing to re-publishing as POD and as ebooks with new look covers. So looking forward to getting all that sorted and out there!

But back to schools. I love school visits – even working with years 9 who sometimes think it's just not cool to actually speak! 

But they keep you on your toes and you're constantly thinking on your feet. It can be exhausting – but in a good way.

And I love the Q & A sessions. You never know what you'll be asked. Such as: 

Q. How you think up the story ideas?
Q How do you come up with the character's names.
Q. How do you get what's in your head onto the paper?
Q. How do you know where to put the full stops and commas?
Q. How do you publish a book?

And they also like to know about you as a person:

Q. How old are you?
I tell them that I started writing when I was expecting my first baby. Now he's grown up with babies of his own.

Q. Are you famous?
I ask them if they would recognise me if they saw me in the street tomorrow.

Q. Do you know any other authors?
Yes, lots, I tell them, and reel off a few names. (AE authors – felt your ears burning recently?)

Q. How much money do you earn?
Believe it or not, I was once asked this by a teacher!!!!

How about you, do you enjoy meeting your readers? And what questions have you been asked about your books?

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Wendy H. Jones said…
It can be difficult working with kids and you've brought it to life here. Loved the story about the polar bear. It made me laugh
Chris Longmuir said…
I've been asked the 'How old are you one?' As well as 'do you make a lot of money' - I wish! I never did understand why I was asked to talk to a primary school given the kind of stuff I write! But they wanted to know about writing rather than my books, just as well.
Jan Needle said…
why have you got a girl's name, mr needle?

why aren't you jan mark, mr needle. is she a man too?
Lydia Bennet said…
I"ve been asked to go into schools as a poet and as much of my recent work is about the science of dying, or the comedy of sex and dating, it's a bit difficult to find suitable work - quantum sheep is always popular thank heavens. When I was a teacher of yr 5, ie age 9-10, one of my fave questions a child asked, a bright child from a poor area, was, 'if there were no humans when there were dinosaurs, how do we know what they were called?' I'm sure you are a major hit with the bairns Ann! Your enthusiasm and interest will snare them for sure.
Susan Price said…
'If there were no humans when there were dinosaurs, how do we know what they were called?'
I think that's quite profound! In some way I can't quite put my finger on.

'If we can name it, we can own it' - even though it was quite independent of us and would have eaten us as a snack.
Bill Kirton said…
I've probably bored you with this before, but I never tire of it. On one visit to a primary school, I had to read each class one of my stories then work with them to sketch out the plot of a new one. I started each one by asking for random characters. One class wanted a caveman, a fairy, a siren and a shark. I started asking them questions to get the story moving. Apparently, the caveman was on a beach fishing and he caught a shark.
'Excellent,' says I. 'What did he say?'
Little girl 1 (barely concealing scorn): Cavemen don't speak. He just said 'Ugg'.
Little girl 2 (sitting beside her): But the shark came up the beach and said 'Hi. I'm Steve.'

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