Over the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to start a new First Story school residency at Co-Op Grange Academy in Bradford. First Story places published writers in disadvantaged schools to encourage the students to write for pleasure. Over the coming year, I’ll be working with a group of students to encourage them in their creative writing, build their confidence and help them to develop their writing skills. At the end of the year, we’ll publish an anthology of their work. Because of COVID, I’m not able to go into school every week, so rather than moving to online provision, I thought I’d play with distance and communication in a creative way. I’ve been sending the students interesting post that invites them to enter an imaginative world and acts as a prompt for their writing. I sent each student a handwritten letter asking them to participate in an experiment – the Planomania Project – through which they can connect to the future, to a group of people who have gone through a life-changing moment called the EVENT. The students were invited to create aliases, write about their support network (their ‘ancestors’) and then log their ‘findings’ on a new website designed for the project. Next week, I’m sending the students objects belonging to the people from the future and asking them to decide who these people were (or will be!)
Through these sessions we’re developing skills of drawing on our own experience to inform our writing and constructing character using stimuli such as objects. I’m looking forward to seeing how our shared narrative develops over the coming months.
My last two cohorts have also launched their anthologies from last year. I’m really proud of the work they’ve produced and think the covers look fantastic! Both of these anthologies explored themes related to my new book, Bea’s Witch – for example, home, identity and displacement. A huge congratulations to all the students involved!
A big thank you to those who have pre-ordered a copy of Bea’s Witch. I was excited to see it as a #1 Amazon bestseller a few weeks ago! Thanks also to those who’ve had advance copies and have posted reviews on Goodreads. If you’ve had an advance copy and are able to post a review, I would really appreciate it. Click here to visit Goodreads.