‘If you get the chance to hear Sophia Bennett speak, grab it with both hands. You won’t regret it.’
Sophie Weston, Liberta Books
The best thing in the world is meeting readers. And aspiring writers too. I do it a lot. Possibly too much, in fact …
I visit. I talk. I’ve spoken at festivals from Edinburgh to Leipzig. I love a good book quiz. I Skype. I’m honoured to have been Patron of Reading for the Abbey School, Reading (the place, not the activity, confusing I know) and Patron of the TSF Readers’ Cup.
All my novels are about creative young people, but this is the first time I’ve written about some of the real artists I admire. Dealing with mental health issues, fear of failure, and pressures of race and gender, they have used their struggles to make great art. This year I’ll be talking about being part of the team that made The Bigger Picture, and some of the inspirational lives I uncovered in my research. From Frida Kahlo to Yayoi Kusama, they all have stories to give young people hope, and make them aspire to change the world too.
In schools, I talk about my books, my inspirations and what it’s like to be a professional creative person. (Difficult! It takes bucket loads of resilience.)
I run creative writing workshops for anyone from 9 to 14. If you’re doing GCSE you might enjoy my seminar on tips for approaching the Writing section, and if you’ve sailed through that already I run career-based workshops for sixth form.
In Winning Like a Girl, I give a talk to Years 7-11 that includes life hacks for coping with difficult situations while remaining true to yourself. This is a talk that is very important to me. There is nothing like the emotion of seeing 200 girls standing up together and shouting their power word. (Children’s Author Tells How to Win Like a Girl.)
If you’d like me to visit your school, book club or event, you can contact me direct, or find me on Authors Aloud or Virtual Authors UK. My visit fees are in line with the Society of Authors guidelines, but virtual visits of 15-20 minutes are free.
I have also taught writing for children to grown-ups, at City Lit, City Uni, SCBWI and the Golden Egg Academy. (It keeps me quite busy. I should probably spend more time in the shed writing the actual books, but I love it.)
‘I thought the writing workshop was great. I love that we got to meet a real life author. She even shared her personal items with us and showed us how to write a great story. The writing workshop helped me know what being a writer feels like. It also encouraged me to persevere and never give up as I found out how many times some authors got rejected before they were finally published! It was fantastic learning about how to write creatively and Sophia also taught us some writing games which were really fun to play.’
Year 6 student, West London
‘Thank you so much for a fabulous day yesterday. When I asked the children you worked with for a few words to describe it to put in the newsletter they were unanimous ; “awesome,” “inspiring” and “she was so cool”!’
Librarian, East Hertfordshire
‘Thank you SO much for yesterday. There was a real buzz around school when I got back. As staff we all thought your talk was perfectly aimed and the creative writing exercise was a stroke of genius.’
‘Wow! That was an amazing visit, thank you so much. My favourite part of it was when you got us to write our own story and you gave us tips. Thank you so much, you have really inspired me.’
Year 7 student, Kent
‘The students were so engaged and enthusiastic during your workshops and the work that some of the year 7s produced was excellent! Your books have now all been borrowed and all of your postcards have gone too – very popular!’
Librarian, West London
You can download a leaflet that tells you all (I hope) you need to know: School visit brochure. If you want to know more, I’m happy to talk you through a typical visit – or a non-typical one – but to make an author visit really swing, check out the wonderful Sarah McIntyre’s ’25 tips for hosting an awesome author visit’. (Warning: unlike Sarah, I do not come dressed as a superhero. I will, however, cut ribbons if requested. And indeed have.)