For the past two years I’ve been Patron of Reading at The Abbey School in Reading (the place, not the activity. I know …) It’s a brilliant scheme, bringing authors and schools together – and if you don’t have a Patron of Reading at your school yet, ask for one!
The authors and school librarians decide how they want it to work. I did various things with the girls from the Abbey and their great librarian, Mrs Lees (standing behind me in the picture below, before I gave her a really big hug), but my favourite by far was getting their EXTREMELY USEFUL input while I was writing Love Song. They were my target audience, and I wanted to know which scenes worked, which didn’t, which characters they liked, what they expected to happen – and how to surprise them. (It was hard: teenage girls are really good at understanding and anticipating narrative structure. Underestimate them at your peril.) They were honest and direct, about the good bits and the bad bits, and above all, they were right.
So it was brilliant to go back with finished copies of the book and tell them all about it. There’s a lovely article about my final visit here. There was cake, there were flowers, there was reading about making music, and writing about dystopian adventures. There was an emotional author by the end. I’ll miss you, Abbey. I hope you find a wonderful author to take over and introduce you to a range of fabulous new books.