|In full story-telling flow: 'Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum!'|
A friend asked me this the other day. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked it. My friends seem deeply puzzled by the amount of time I spend in schools.
I can understand, I suppose. After all, unlike many other writers, I’ve never been a teacher. I have no qualifications. I know lots of little bits of odd things, but I can’t claim to be an expert in any one subject.
My partner, Davy, who phoned while I was writing this blog, insists that I put in here that my education came from ‘voracious reading’ (his words.) He insists that I add this, with his usual relentless Scottish persistence, in case people think that I’m "thick and only managed to write a book by a fluke. You shouldn’t keep telling people you’re unqualified, you should stop that now."
Sixty-odd books, Davy? Some fluke. But now, when he reads this (and he will read it, just to check, I ken the cheukster) here is his correction, [almost] as dictated over the phone.
Despite being thick and flukish, I’m always telling friends that I’m off to some school in Yorkshire, or South Wales, or Scotland. I’ve even been into schools in Germany, where one boy asked me breathlessly (in beautiful English) whether I’d met the Queen. He and his classmates gasped with shock when I replied, “No: and I don’t want to. I think Britain should be a Republic.” Seeing astonished expressions on all sides, I added, “Not everybody in Britain adores the monarchy.”
|Soon to be available for download|
The head thanked me later, saying that was exactly why he wanted British visitors – to counter the impression of Britain that his pupils received from television and magazines. (The ever protective and vigilant Davy doesn’t like this part either. He thinks I’ll lose my monarchist readership: as if I ever had one. Honestly, love the man, but if I listened to him, I’d never open my mouth or write a word. And when Davy reads this, he will cry – his constant refrain – ‘Suzzie, you never do as you’re told, Suzzie!’)
Countering impressions received… That’s pretty much the answer to my friends’ question. As a writer in school, I – and other writers, such as my SAS friends – are giant teaching aids. There are thousands of children who’ve never given much thought to where books come from, or who think they’re only written by – well, by people like the Queen, perhaps: distant, rich people with private educations and plummy accents. And then I turn up – an ordinary woman, with a Black Country accent, and read from the books I’ve written.
|Tales of the Underworld on Amazon|
It makes writing a book suddenly seem like something ordinary people can do - something that living people you can talk to can do. I tell them about the slum I was born in, and the council estate I was raised on, the comprehensive I attended.
I tell stories, which I love – and because I read an exciting story aloud from one of my own books – well, suddenly, books are exciting and worth investigating.
And that’s what writers are doing in schools near you.
Here, you'll find SAS members, including me, reading from their books. And I daresay one or two might two might pop up in the comments.
Blott's come down from the roof....