This is the WASTED BLOG. For my main author website, click this link.

Awards: WASTED won the Read it or Else category in the Coventry Award and was runner-up in the North East Book Award. It is longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Manchester, Grampian, Angus, and RED Awards.

Friday, 8 October 2010

SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT 2: Dundee High School

On Monday I visited Dundee High School to do some school events. So, a lovely train journey across the Forth Rail Bridge to Dundee, accompanied by my usual tomato and cream cheese on health seed bagel from the Bagel Factory in the station, and there I was on a gorgeous sunny day, ready for the first talk.

120 keen-faced S1/Year 7 pupils seemed stunned when I showed them my Thomas the Tank Engine books. I shocked them with Fleshmarket, which half of them will be studying as a set text next term - which happens a lot, and always makes me a) proud and b) nervous. And I prepared them for Deathwatch by establishing that about 75% of them hated insects, before moving onto Wasted.

We played Jack's Game - see pic on the right - with the prize of a signed copy of Wasted. My nervous moment was when I told them that I only wanted them to enter the competition if they REALLY wanted the chance to win a copy. (Imagine if only three of them had.) Luckily, they ALL did. So, we played Jack's Game and the lucky winner was ...a boy whose name I am just checking with the librarian and she's going to get back to me! Much cheering. In fact, much noise altogether. And much book-buying afterwards.

Then to the library, where the senior book group  - Chloe, Kirsty, Isabella, Rebecca and Ailsa - shared sandwiches, millionaire shortbread and opinions of Wasted. (Except that we seemed to keep coming round to the subject of Twilight. Why does that always happen??) I asked what they thought of the cover - of Wasted, NOT Twilight - and we all agreed that red was a great colour, despite the fact that my publishers didn't want it - ha! - and that one other good thing about it was that because the cover doesn't tell you much, it makes you want to read it to see what it's about.

They asked me about the title, and I told them it was because originally the book was going to be much more about alcohol and that, when it wasn't, I still wanted the title because it had a "sit up and take notice" factor, which they agreed with. Luckily. Bit late to change it now.

We also talked about how annoying it is that so many books are series now. (You hear that, publishers??)

Oh, and they asked me if I'd ever played Jack's Game for real. Yes, I have: I asked the coin whether I should write for teenagers or younger from now and the coin said younger. I have today decided that the coin is wrong. I will not let my life be ruled by a coin. So, as of today, I am going back to teenage writing and a book I started a few months ago before having my temporary change of plan. It's a very shocking book, and I was a bit worried about it being too shocking, but several people have convinced me that I should do it. Including my agent, so that's a good start. If you hang around on this blog, I might even tell you the title.

Then, back into the hall to talk to 120 S2/ Year 8s. If possible, they made EVEN more noise playing Jack's Game and the winner this time was a girl called Eve. Much cheering. And much book buying. By this time it was very hot in the hall so I told them I'd only sign their books if they fanned me while I was doing it. A good ploy. Two girls - Sasha and Eve - are having their names in another book I'm writing now. (I didn't promise that nothing nasty would happen to them, though...)

Lots of teachers came to talk to me afterwards. I say this because often teachers take no interest in an author event. I give credit to Catherine Owens, the librarian, who had done everything to make the event go well. She'd prepared pupils, staff and me. She had made sure I had everything I needed. AND she let me go and get some fresh air between the events. I am a person of simple tastes and I just need a bit of space to recover and get my brain in gear for the next talk. So, thank you to Catherine, all the staff and all the fabulous pupils from Forms 1 and 2 of Dundee High School.

Catherine told me the next day that she'd had a delighted email from a parent who said that her son had been so keen to buy Fleshmarket that he'd used money that he was supposed to buy a dance ticket with and that night he'd gone to bed early to read it - which was the first time he'd actually shown enthusiasm for a book. Hooray!

So, all in all, a happy day. Until I got home to find a workman hadn't come to the house, the dog-sitter had forgotten to come and feed and walk my dog at tea-time, and my husband had accidentally turned the fridge-freezer off.

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