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!