On Tuesday night I attended the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2017, where Moonlocket was nominated in the Children’s Book Category, along with five other authors. Christian O’Connell for Radio Boy, Maz Evans, for Who Let the Gods Out, Robin Stevens for The Guggenheim Mystery, Katherine Rundell for The Explorers and Emma Carroll for Letters From the Lighthouse. I got to hang out with some of the other authors for the evening, and I couldn’t have been more proud to be up there with this line up that includes many of my favourite children’s authors. Especially to be there for Moonlocket, which is the second book in the series, as those are the books that often get overlooked. So its great that it’s found a readership who love it just as much as the first one! The award in the children’s category went to Emma Carroll for Letters From the Lighthouse. Congratulations Emma! I love Emma’s books and have yet to read this one but really look forward to it.
A while ago I asked Robin Stevens if I could come and watch one of her school visits and she kindly agreed to take me along to shadow an event at Thomas’s School in Kensington.
I met Robin outside the school entrance on the sole nice spring day of the week. As we were shown through into the library we passed the dining room where one of the girls, sat by the door, mimed murder and books to her friends at the next table so they would know Robin had arrived!
Outside the library we spotted a big noticeboard featuring upcoming author visit, showing Robin and Abi Elphinstone – another fab middle grade author. Inside the library, above the bookshelves, I noticed some amazing murals of The BFG and Harry Potter. The nice librarian, Miss Barker, offered us both a cup of tea and explained to Robin that two of the girls in her class were big fans of the books and had formed their own Detective Society, naming themselves after Daisy and Hazel. Soon the rest of their friends had joined in as all the other characters, which was amazing to hear! Robin said she’d spoken to a few of the girls via email and they’d told her how excited they were about the event.
Then it was time for the talk in the main hall, I sat in the front row of the audience and managed to snap a few pictures of Robin while she spoke about the books. Robin managed to integrate a teaser for each mystery with telling the kids about her own life at boarding school – and how, like Hazel, she felt different growing up as something of foreigner in England. Interactive bits and questions and answers were peppered through the talk to keep it interesting, and at the end Robin got the kids to suggest a victim and setting for their own murder mystery. Then they came up with suspects and a solution.
Afterwards, at the signing back in the school library, it was lovely to see how enthused the detective society gang and the rest of the students were about the books. I think that was the most inspiring part of the day: how excited the kids who’d read the books were to meet Robin and talk to her about the world and characters they truly loved. In terms of putting together a talk for my book it has definitely set the bar high, and given me a lot to think about!
On Monday night I went to a great event for soon to be published authors organised by Non Pratt, author of Trouble and Remix, and Robin Stevens, Author of the Murder Most Unladylike Mystery Series (AKA Batnon and Robin – which are their secret superhero identities).
This is the second of their events I’ve been to. The first, last year, was all about what to expect as a debut author, which was a fantastic overview of the publishing process, especially for someone like me, who up until very recently knew nothing about the world of publishing!
This new session, however, was the HOW TO OF AUTHOR EVENTS, and Non and Robin cover a lot of topics, including:
- What you might include in setting up your author events info.
- Who and where your bookings might come from.
- How to pitch your event to schools, festivals and librarians.
- Varying the format of your talk for different sessions and audiences.
- Chunking your talk so that it’s easy to get through and scalable in length.
- Planning workshop events that teach writing, rather than just selling your book.
They also discussed how to set out your costs and rates with event organisers, what events you should charge for, how to plan and think about your expenses, and what, if any, events you might consider doing as freebies.
Finally they both demo-d short extracts of their own events for us, and stressed how you needed A LOT of audience participation to make your talk interesting to kids. Altogether it was a fun evening with plenty of laughs and knowledge along the way.
Both Non and Robin have new books coming out this year. And if you want to find out more about their author events for those, or any upcoming #BatnonandRobin events, you can find them on twitter here: