My First Author Talk to ADULTS!
Back in January 2012, I went on BBC radio Oxford Jo
Thoenoes’s afternoon program with my writer buddy Jo Wyton to talk about
Undiscovered Voices and the advantages of being in Writers Groups (to read about it press here
afterwards I was invited by ‘The University of The 3rd Age
’ to speak
at one of their weekly meetings about my writing. So on Monday that’s exactly what
I’ve done talks about fairy tales to primary school children
before, but usually just classes of up to 30 pupils, and they have all been
rather small, with me sat in front of them with laptop presentation and props,
and having lots of interaction. This however was very different. I turned up to
hall and was quickly set up with a microphone, my USB stick was whisked away,
and they set me up ready for the talk. I was also given a remote to move the
slides on, that had a laser pointer! I sat on the stage and watched whilst 130
adults gradually arrived and filled the sea of empty chairs, trying not to
chock on my nerves.
I decided to structure the talk as my writing journey. I
began speaking about my love for storytelling and making books as a small
child, going through my troubles with dyslexia, and discussing my art work at University,
where I rekindled my passion for fairy tales. I talked about how ‘Through
Mortal Eyes’ came about, the personal circumstances which inspired me to write,
and the aims of the book. All the while, I had bouts of laugher, sighs in all
the right places, all of which helped me relax and settle into the rhythm of
|One of my first books, penned age 6|
The next section was about the research of the novel, the reading
of fairy tales, explaining why I used certain tales, and briefly telling tales
that I thought audience would not be familiar with; like, ‘The Three Snake Leaves’
by The Brothers Grimm (too much squirming from the audience!).
It was very interesting
to see how my talk was challenging older people’s perceptions of fairy tales,
and how similar this was to the reaction I get from children. I found this part
of the talk very liberating, being able to talk about the darker side of fairy
tales instead of having to sensor to be age appropriate for my usual younger
audience. Making the most of the
opportunity, I spoke about the Siberian tale that has been a huge influence on
the story about Dog-Headed People, and about the very real fifteenth century
Hungarian Countess, Elizabeth Báthory, who tortured and murdered young women to
bathe in their blood. I talked about how
local legends and places feature in the book sparking a healthy debate in the
audience and even laughter – especially when we questioned why Disney had not
adapted any of the fairy tales I spoken about!
I began to close by talking about writing, editing,
submitting and the importance of having writer friends, the likes of SCBWI
, to help you whip a manuscript and submission package into
shape, but also to help you stay sane!
|Image of Elizabeth Bathory from Wikipedia Public Domain|
I finished with hope. The Chicken House Long listing, the
importance of celebrating small victories in a world of so much rejection, and
then finally I read an extract from ‘Through Mortal Eyes’ finishing to applause.
With the lights now on, I could see that everyone was indeed
both awake and attentive (and still mostly smiling) and so the Q&A section
began. I had lot of questions; about fairy tales, writing, dyslexia, YA
literature, all of which sparked further discussions. When the Q&A was over
I had many people come to speak to me and ask even more questions, which was
All in all I was very pleased and relieved about how the
event went. The University of the 3rd
Age, were very welcoming and
made me feel at ease. I have some work to do to improve certain bits, but on
the whole I’m pleased that, like my art work, my writing style was a good catalyst
for discussion; and that is exactly how I like it.
So I'd like to say a big Thank You to the, U3A Abingdon, for inviting me and making me so welcome!