The 2015 round-up


2015 was an astonishing year for me and that Ruby Morris.

So grateful to readers – and to schools, book awards, YALC and Macmillan for opportunities to get out there.

If you write, you know how it is: you spend your life in a small room imagining (and typing and deleting and typing again).

In 2015, I had to LEAVE THE KEYBOARD.

Always had a terrible fear of public speaking. I had to get out and get over it – and myself! – and learn that it’s really a pleasure and a privilege to TALK TO PEOPLE.

Previous posts describe many goings-on, all too too lovely to pick a highlight, but here’s the ones I missed in the end-of-year scramble:

Clevedon School! This should have been my disaster of the year! Books on the Hill (fantastic new Somerset booksellers: SUPPORT THEM!) and I didn’t know . . . if you’re not a HUGE name, no one – not even teachers! – will come to an after-school gig. FOUR students turned up . . . and it was BRILLIANT. The 4 Johns (you had to be there), I salute you.

The Sheffield Book Award! Shucks, The Rain didn’t win, but I got to meet hundreds of young readers in The Crucible theatre, followed by a presentation at All Saints High School. (Had never spoken in an open-plan classroom before – didn’t even know they existed! – so to those students: THANK YOU! I couldn’t have done that without you!)

Swindon Youth Festival of Literature! Nova Hreod Academy?! STARS!!! Super-atmospheric rainy day for a presentation or two – and a storm of questions and comments to follow. I grew up near Swindon and I have to confess it gives me the shivers to be back on home ground – in a good way. (The best part of getting published is being able to support young readers and writers.)

King’s School, Bruton, Somerset! Thank you! I was poorly and thought I needed a mike – and it was better without! Included my first Year 9 group . . . and we rocked it. Excellent Q&A. Excellent! First time I’ve been stumped: can you synthesise water? (The student who asked the question took the time and the trouble to find out: you can, but it’d be pricey . . . )

Queensbridge School, Birmingham!  Great school, great welcome and –  first ever workshops . . . possible only with massive support from the excellent librarians and teaching staff. (And I do mean massive support – thank you!) I used to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), so I reckoned I knew my way around a lesson plan – but I’d never done classes with Year 7’s before. Wow! The ENERGY. The IDEAS. The ENTHUSIASM.
Also thank you to The National Literacy Trust; visit funded by the Premier League Reading Stars scheme.

Cambridge Writers! THANK YOU! Last gig of the year . . . I felt like I’d come home. I spent years in writing groups, small and large, focusing on this and that. Sharing, feeling vulnerable, sometimes indignant and misunderstood – but always learning . . . including learning how to respect your own voice and style. Lots of diverse voices in Cambridge Writers. You made me feel so welcome! (I didn’t want to leave.)


That’s about it.

Thank you to everyone I met, and to all those who read. Chuffed. Honoured.


Oh, and I’ve moved back to Bristol.


Me, I’m working on a new book now. 😉