I was delighted to have been asked to visit a local senior school in Bradford, West Yorkshire, this week to discuss and read from The Order of the White Boar.
School library co-ordinator Dianne Blashill had attended a previous library event and, having enjoyed the book herself, thought that the members of the Year 7 and 8 book club at Grange Technology College would too. After all, they are very much in the age group – 11 to 13 – for whom I wrote the book!
Only a little daunted at the prospect of my first senior school visit, I donned my new medieval-style gown (my old page costume having been returned to the theatrical costumiers) and prepared to introduce these young people to the story of King Richard III – and the disrespect that has been heaped on him over the centuries since his death.
Each of the students was to be given a copy of The Order to start reading it over the half-term holiday, before coming back to discuss it at their club. To my surprise, several had already got hold of copies, some having already read well past the section I had planned to read aloud for them.
Fortunately that didn’t stop them listening to all that I had to say, and to the reading – and perhaps it helped them think beforehand about questions to ask – leading to a lively question & answer session at the end. Among the questions were several on what had inspired me to write, and particularly about King Richard, and several other authors were name-checked, particularly Josephine Tey and, of course, Philippa Langley.
The students were fascinated by the story of how Philippa found King Richard in the car park with the help of the Looking For Richard team – and of course the shivery feeling when she looked down and saw the ‘R’ painted on the tarmac. They also enjoyed the likening of the layers of archaeology to the layers of a sponge cake! And I thoroughly enjoyed hearing King Henry VIII being described as, not only the one with all the wives, but also ‘the one who ate all the pies’! Clearly these students have been well taught in their history lessons.
Mrs Blashill said, “The students really enjoyed themselves. I’ve never seen our students so engaged. Thank you again, it was brilliant.”
The school has posted about the visit on their website:
So my first senior school author visit was a success. I hope there will be many more to follow.
If you know of any schools (primary or secondary) that would be interested in a similar author visit, do let me know.