School Visits

As a writer who used to teach…and who still teaches  ‘writing for children’ to adults… I really do enjoy going in to schools and meeting pupils. Meeting my target audience is an important part of my ‘job’. And if I can inspire them to write themselves…bonus!

I am happy to tailor my sessions to the needs of the school and year groups, but I find that with my teen novels Wickedness and Deceit  (which both have story strands set in the 17th century around the time of the Great Plague and also reference the Ancient Egyptians) a power point presentation seems to go down really well…especially the wizened mummy slide! It gives the sessions focus but allows a two-way exchange of information and ideas.

Teachers are often amazed to find out just how much their pupils know about the period. (Phew…all that work and something went in!) And there is always plenty of time to talk about the writing process itself and for pupils to ask lots of questions about the historical research needed to write the novels. “What was it like to be a teenager in Ancient Egypt?”  “Make-up in the 17th century…what ingredients were used and why was it often really bad for you?” “What were the silliest cures for the plague and did they work? ”  “What did people wear and how often did they change their clothes?” “Washing…how often, where and what with?!”

I also do sessions for primary age children using my younger fiction. Rather than simply read the stories to them…I always like to use visual props from the stories and get the children really involved!

Or maybe one of my stories could be used as a jumping off point for a class project? The Victorians, using Luke Lively and the Castle of Sleep. Hot air balloons using Chicken in a Basket. The Great Fire of London using Wickedness.

A couple of school reviews . . .

“A few teachers came to see me at the end of the day to tell me how the kids had been raving about your sessions. I know they all had a fab time; thanks for inspiring them!”   Hannah Collins, Brookvale High School, Groby

“Thank-you very much…I think you successfully engaged the pupils with your enthusiasm for writing and for the period of history covered in Wickedness…the pupils were impressed and inspired.”   Deborah Fones, English Martyrs, Leicester

“I can see why you teach…it seems to be a natural talent!” Priya Chauhan, LongField School, Melton Mowbray.

And some comments on the adult creative writing courses

“Attending the course gave me the inspiration and confidence to keep writing.” Fiona Spence-Arnold

“I think all us ‘Wednesday morning students’ agree that you have been an inspiration.” Lisa Davies

And from Antonia Reed who went on to do an MA in Creative Writing:

“Have to say though, I feel it was you who kick-started the process…so THANK YOU.”

And a bookshop session for World Book Day

“…you were a real star on the day. Thanks so much for making the visit.” Foyles, Stratford branch.

Letters from Children

“We mostly (?!) enjoyed meeting you. I liked “Pass the Ball”. The funniest part I thought was when granddad took Mike’s place then granddad had wobbly knees and his hands could hardly move. The shorts were short and the T Shirt was small. Grandad was going to score but the goalkeeper fowled him…Grandad was man of the match. It was a great day.”

“Dear Debbie White, I like Pass the Ball because I am mad about foot-ball. Have you written other books. If you have I may go on the website and buy them. Have you got some chickens yet? I have a hamster and a dog but I want a guinea pig like yours. But my mum and dad said I am not old enough yet.”

“I enjoyed reading Star Struck. I like Star Struck because it was exciting. The most thrilling part is at the end when Madame Mara jumps on the violin and gets arrested.

Dear Debbie, Thank-you for Star Struck and Dad’s Win Prizes. I read them when Mum and dad whent to there friends for supper. I read about you not practicing (the violin) and I told Mum because I never practice my harp.

“Dear M.S White, I’m writing to you because I liked reading Chicken in a Basket. My favourite part is when Clouk found out that the fire was not burning, because I like finding things out.”

Debbi White, I think our storys are very very very funny like Chicken in a Basket. I want to read more than I yousto. I can not wate until I read anuther.”

“Thank you for coming to are school to talk to us about Luke Lively. I thought it was really interesting. When I grow up I want to be a writer just like you. I think Luke Lively is: enjoyable, exciting and funny and I think you could laugh a lot by Listening to it and I bet your other books will be the same.”

“I am really sorry about your typewriter (I took in my Smith Corona 1914 portable to show them…and told them the story of how it was stolen…and how I got it back) Anyway you had lots of paper in your folder. It was kind of hevy. I never knew being a writer was such hard work. That might be my job when I get older.”