Last Thursday I had another first. My first school visit.
I was invited back to my old school, St Kilian's Community School in Bray, Co. Wicklow. It was fairly nerve-wracking, because I remember how tough it can be to keep discipline with teenagers, and St Kilian's was often particularly bad for it in my day.
There were a couple of students who couldn't sit still while I spoke. One pretended to snore. But for the most part, actually, it was fine. Plenty of students listened intently and asked good questions afterwards. I'm told that the school has ordered Locked Within for the library and the principal told me they enjoyed the talk.
A few students wanted to know where to buy the book for themselves, and at least one young student is a writer himself, and the principal suggested he stay in touch with me. I gave handouts to all the students with information on writing and the publishing industry, along with a link to this website. So if any of you reading this were at the talks on Thursday, welcome to the blog and feel free to ask me anything you like!
In Ireland students between the ages of 16 and 17 have "transition year," where they get a break from heavy exams and can try new things like film and drama, learning about businesses, art, different languages, etc. I've been invited back in February to do a creative writing class with the transition year students, and one of the teachers wants to put Locked Within on the transition year curriculum next year.
All in all, I call that a very successful visit!