Wednesday, 1 July 2009


I went to Oundle School today, in Oundle, Northamptonshire. It was a horrible drive - very hot and along the hideous A14 for a lot of the way, with its roadside billboards stating just how many people have died in accidents in the previous months.

I had never been to Oundle before. It is a pretty little town that had a bit of a Cotswold feel about it. The school library I was visiting is in the churchyard of a lovely spired medieval church. All rather different to my own school experience I have to say.

I gave a talk to a large group of Year 7 and Year 8 children. I had spent a lot of time on a PowerPoint presentation and had made little videos in Photoshop and embedded them in the slides. It was going to be amazing.

But of course it didn't work.

I still went through the slides and the talk went well enough. The children seemed engaged and certainly asked a lot of very good questions. But it was annoying all the same. The thing is, you just have to forget something like that and move on. Never make your whole show based on something that might not work. You have to be flexible.

After the talk I signed and sold copies of Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror and Tales of Terror from the Black Ship and then did a couple of workshops in the library. We talked about creepy stories and how they work and what kind of things you have to consider when writing one. Then we tried to come up with one.

I had a chance to have a brief chat with a boy whom my son used to know when we lived in Norfolk, but missed his twin brother. It was lovely to see him and triggered a bit of nostalgia I have to say.

All in all a pretty intensive morning but it is always a privilege to meet bright children and hear what they have to say. A pleasure too to meet another great librarian in Leigh Giurlando, who I had assumed from the name during our email conversations to be a man, but is in fact a woman - and an American at that. As always I feel I have to point out how lucky any school is to have a good library and person like Leigh who knows about and cares about books.

Once again - librarians rock.

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