It shouldn't happen to a children's author By Ann Evans

Author Ann Evans and class
Author visits to schools are really rewarding – not just financially, although you certainly earn your money; but because it's great to encourage the youngsters to enjoy books and to write better stories.

World Book Week is fast approaching, and I've got a busy week, working some days as a solo author in a school, and a couple of visits when I team up with author Karen King, for one of our KAT Visits – Kids and Authors Together. 

Doing this we can cover the whole of a primary school with Karen working KS1 and me doing KS2. We'll usually start with a joint assembly for the school, which somehow we've got down to a fine art! Each of us knowing the other one's anecdotes, and feeding each other the right question or comment to lead into our humorous tale (or tale of woe!) to entertain 200-300 bright eager faces. Ant and Dec have nothing on us!

However, generally our KAT visits have some sort of 'disaster' such as the time we had only minutes to fetch something from the car. The car was parked 'miles' away, but there was a short cut through the school's 10ft high electronic metal gates. They were shut, we couldn't alert a member of staff to open them so we decided to squeeze through. Stuck, giggling like a pair of schoolchildren, we wriggled through a six inch gap – twice, half expecting to be caught on camera and sent to the Head. Fortunately we didn't get detention!

On another occasion my website was brought up on the big screen with a photo of me. One bright spark shouted out, “You look older in real life!”

Often the schools we get invited to are a fair distance away. Driving Karen and myself back from a school up North, Karen's husband arranged for us to meet him at a particular service station, where Karen could jump into his car and I wouldn't have to travel all the way back to Worcester to drop her off. But oddly nothing seemed to tally. Finally the penny dropped - he was on the M5 and we were on the M6!

On another occasion trying to get home from a Manchester school, we seemed to be going round and round in circles. Every time we neared a main road leading to the motorway, my sat nav would veer off in another direction, with the roads getting tinier and tinier, and us making no headway at all. Pulling into an Asda car park I thought I'd better check my sat nav settings. I've no idea how it had switched to 'Avoid all major roads!'

And there was a lovely moment when I was talking to a class, and the teacher jumped up all excited. In fact she just couldn't contain her excitement. She stopped me in mid flow and proclaimed to her class that she'd just realised that I was the author of a book she had absolutely loved when she was a child. Okay, so I felt my age again then – but her absolute joy was something to behold.

And an amazing moment when I was at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Academy in Worcester. Myself, Karen and seven or eight other authors were taking part in a 'Living Library' session. It's a bit like speed dating. Groups of four or five children sit with each author for about five minutes, asking questions and so on, then when the bell rings, that group move on and you get another group.

I was telling one group how I was inspired to write the two follow on books to The Beast after a child had emailed me after reading The Beast and asking what was going to happen next. I explained to my little group of children that I started thinking what might happen and before I knew it I'd got two more books mapped out – The Reawakening and Rampage. I was stunned when a girl probably aged 13 or 14 said, “I emailed you after reading The Beast!” She may have been my inspiration, I can't be sure, but it certainly was a lovely moment.

It's great to meet up with your readers. What's the best or worst that anyone has said about your book or you as an author?

My website:


Bill Kirton said…
I agree, Ann. The sort of age groups you're talking about are perhaps the most satisfying to spend time with talking about books. Very little is predictable. As for the worst thing that's ever been said to me... One of them is when an 11 year old asked me if a particular book in the library was by me. I said yes and her come back was 'Rubbish cover, isn't it?' But their honesty is always refreshing.

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