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Tour Stuff #1: An Evening of Ghost Stories

Hello All

Well, I’m back from the very exhausting but VERY rewarding Haunted tour! 1,600 miles, dozens of schools, and plenty of scares later, and part of me wishes I could do it all over again! I met so many great people on my trek around the UK – brilliant booksellers, terrific teachers, stupendous students, as well as that crazily creative crew at Seven Stories (see the post below).

I could write and write about my experiences, filling paragraph after paragraph with funny stories and intriguing anecdotes, but I’ve decided to rest my typing fingers (I really need to get back to writing books!) and select nugget-size chunks of cool stuff to share.

The first is this amazing poster and tickets from my ‘Evening of Ghost Stories’ event at Lostock Hall Academy! (Click images for larger views)

Lostock Hall

Lostocj Hall

(‘An Evening of Ghost Stories’ is my brand new after-schools event, designed, in part, to get parents more involved in school life. Details of this new event can be found at my School Visits page here.)

At the kind invitation of Head of English, Mrs Butterworth, I took this new event into the wonderful Lostock Hall Academy. The school hall had been suitably decorated with spider webs, tarantulas and bats (plastic, thankfully!), and all manner of creepy accessories. The evening kicked off with an introductory speech from Mrs Butterworth welcoming parents into the school and highlighting the different activities in which the children were engaged.

Then we were treated to some particularly spine-tingling readings from the school’s ‘Community Readers.’

I was waiting in the stage’s darkened wings (the lights had been turned low in the auditorium and the shadows had gathered), listening to these courageous young people reading extracts from their favourite scary stories. We had pieces from classics like Dracula, Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, as well as exciting contemporary extracts from Darren Shan and other fresh voices in horror. I must say, these pupils read their pieces beautifully – I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to perform to a packed hall when I was their age! We were then treated to a charming and suitably haunting song from a young lady who, I believe, really ought to try out for The X Factor!

Then it was my turn at the podium. Echoing a line from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, I suggested that we were no longer sitting in Lostock Hall’s auditorium but had been transported to a ‘home by horror haunted’ and that the audience ought to keep repeating to themselves: It’s only a story, only a story, only a story…

I performed a dramatic reading from MR James’ ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’, then two tales from my own pen. I’m happy to report the audience screeched and jumped out of their skins in all the right places! The atmosphere was just right, with pupils from throughout the school chaperoning their nervous parents into the hall and then laughing along with them as those spooked-out mums and dads leaped out of their seats during the scary bits!

After the readings the school had organised a charity raffle. I think the best part of the evening was the community atmosphere generated by the event. It was great to see parents, pupils and teachers all brought together for the evening in an environment where parents could learn more about the school and feel more included in their children’s education.

So a huge thank you to Mrs Butterworth and all the staff and pupils at Lostock Hall. I was very gratified to receive this message from Mrs Butterworth after the visit:

‘Just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic day and for your  breath-taking readings . Your impact on our pupils’ enthusiasm for reading was tangible.’ What greater compliment can a writer receive?

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