I’d been thinking about doing something for World Book Day as it drew closer, remembering that last year it came upon me suddenly and being my first World Book Day as an author, I felt obliged to play some small part. I’d planned a busy ‘three centre’ day, which included collecting train tickets from Market Harborough, a business meeting in Birmingham and a nip to Lutterworth for emergency supplies. So having recently published my debut novel, I did no more than throw a few copies in a bag, vaguely hoping an opportunity would present itself.
I quickly realised dragging a bagful of hefty tomes around with me was folly, so made a swift decision to dole them out to the mismatched selection of females I was to encounter that day. This included the woman behind the glass at the station, a marketing director in a smart city hotel, a Waitrose check-out lady and finally a pretty dark-haired girl in the post office. The surprise, bemusement and delight each gift bestowed was thanks enough, and I considered my personal contribution to last year’s World Book Day a small success.
Having established this ‘new ‘ tradition – I was thrilled when a cousin – of whom I have many, being Irish – seconded me as ‘Author in Residence’ for World Book Day at the primary school where she works. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was dressed as their favourite fictional character. I hugged a beautiful Cat in the Hat (my cousin); bumped into any amount of Harry Potters and Hermiones; waved to Snow White; chatted studiously with the Lion from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and was brought biscuits by War Horse.
After the most colourful assembly I’ve ever encountered, I was introduced to my Writer Stars – five shining examples of all that is good about the education system – and we got straight down to our Workshop. We were a publishing ‘house’; each student decided their genre, what their latest novel was to be called, then wrote a synopsis, a blurb, a dedication and most importantly came up with a pen name.
I then morphed into a Hollywood movie producer and they each pitched their book to me, with the rest of the team acting as a panel, X Factor style. To say I was impressed with their creative talent, grasp of language and vocabulary is an understatement, I was blown away. But it was their imagination that really shone; we encountered Russian princesses, broken families, war and fantasy heroes, horror, unrequited love and some very funny writing indeed. We had the greatest fun and I had the best of times, it was a privilege to be with these awesome and delightful young people. As I left, I gave books that had inspired me to the children, and my novels to the teachers, because you know, there’s nothing like the gift of a book, it comes with a free smile!