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Posts Tagged ‘children’s reading’

HAUNTED & WITCHFINDER: INCREDIBLE KINDLE DEALS!

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

So… There are Hussey Horror deals galore on Kindle!!!

You can get my new book HAUNTED and WITCHFINDER: DAWN OF THE DEMONTIDE for just 99p!

AND you can get my chilling short story, TURN HER FACE TO THE WALL, for absolutely NOTHING! Yup, completely FREE!

This Macabre Madness will have to end soon, so snap ’em up while you can. You might event choose to give these bargain horror books as gifts as part of Neil Gaiman’s brilliant All Hallows Read project!

Just click on the covers below and you’ll get around 150,000 words worth of terror for just 99! (OK, enough with the exclamation marks!!!)

Haunted-5 front only

Witchfinder_-_Dawn_of_the_Demontide[1]

turn

Tour Stuff #1: An Evening of Ghost Stories

Monday, October 14th, 2013

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?

Spectacular Writing from Jersey Schools!

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Signing books at Grainville

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the wonderful Grainville School in Jersey for a day of events that included Haute Vallee School, Le Roquier School & Jersey College for Girls. As well as the usual Witchfinder Experience (during which we discovered lots of devilish goings on and executed a particularly bloodthirsty witch), I also engaged the children in a HUGE creative writing workshop. As ever during these sessions, I was amazed by the creativity of the pupils. My main aim as a writer is to get kids excited about reading and writing their own stories, and I am delighted to report that the children of Jersey did their schools proud.

The central story we all collaborated on involved a dark conspiracy to split the world in two! Together we built a strong main character called Jill – a clever, sensitive girl who eventually found the strength to overcome her grief for her dead brother and stand against Armageddon! Again, I was overjoyed (and a little awed!) by the ingenuity of the children during our storyline brainstorming.

After the visit, the brilliant Miss Basu sent me a collection of the children’s stories. They’re so good I just had to share a few lines with you.

One of the things I try to impress upon young writers is the need to grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph or, better yet, in the very first line. This advice was taken on board by Justyna, Zoe, Ross, Trudy, Aimee, Andre and Chiannon in the opening to their joint story:

‘The suffocating silence of the desert seemed unbreakable. Nothing but the barely audible sound of wind humming softly in the distance. Unbearable heat radiated from the demonic ball of flaming gas they all once had loved so much.’

Wow! What an opener! I loved the sense of arid desert silence being eternal and unbreakable. I was immediately hooked. The same is  true of this poetic opening sentence from Sophie, Matt, George, Molly, Eleanor and Jordan:

‘Blistering winds tore at the clouds, pulling at the edges like strands of an old man’s hair. The rain battered against the windows; the rustling of papers could be heard inside his room.’

I love the imagery here and the fact that everything seems so alive: the clouds, the rain, the papers. The atmosphere is evoked so brilliantly, and we are immediately intrigued as to who ‘he’ might be.

Another striking opening comes courtesy of Jasmine, Mollie, Alice, Alia, Sam, Bennie and Jamie. This one puts us directly in the thoughts and feelings of the main character and plunges us into the midst of an incredible mental tumult:

‘Thoughts spinning out of control through my mind. Bashing up against my dented skull. Like a broken record, never stopping. Screaming inside my head, repeating the same dreaded words over and over again…’

I love the staccato rhythm of this writing, pushing us on like a train hurtling along its rails. The imagery of thoughts bashing against a dented skull is great, conveying the turmoil of the character and how unpleasant those thoughts must be. I, for one, want to know more about this intriguing person and what has happened to her.

This piece from Jack Evans-Rentsch is perhaps less overtly dramatic but is just as atmospheric and intriguing. Despite the character here claiming this is a calm place, I feel tension bubbling under Jack’s words:

‘The keys were laid out in front of him clearly as he played. White on black, black on white, his fingers moved to the tempo. The light blazed down on him with the musty smell of the old wooden stage and the hot feeling of the light. The audience was looking, watching, waiting with eagerness as he played. A white rose lay on top of his gleaming black piano. The mood was relaxed. He felt happy here. Calm, soothing. It hadn’t always been like this.

Two years ago Alex Grabrier was sitting in his therapist’s office. He wore his black suit with a gleaming white shirt and a blood-red tie.’

The final image in the paragraph of the blood-red tie contrasts so cleverly with the white rose and, with an almost brutal ease, throws off the tranquillity of what has gone before. This is actually very sophisticated writing, and for this reason I decided to award Jack the prize for best creative writing piece.

All of the entries had something to recommend them and, as I’ve already said, I was incredibly impressed with the students’ work. An effective piece of character-building was shown by Lara Peters who, in her opening paragraph, used words very economically and very effectively to give us a strong character sketch, particularly in the second sentence where actions are used to hint at character type:

‘She was a quiet girl, kept herself to herself. She stumbled around the school, listening to every movement, every word. Her name was Jill Blackmore.’

Back to dramatic action now with Charlotte le Gresley. Again, the action is tense and very well drawn, and I love the imagery of ‘scars’, suggesting the Earth is wounded:

‘I saw the sea, and any sense of normality, disappear into the vast darkness. Into the scars of the Earth. The boats, the swimmers, the buoys, everything in the stretch of blue was sucked into the swirling vortex of black. Screams, like the chorus of panicked birds, filled the air as the great waters fell. I stood on the edge of the precipice and watched the pure rock, crust, and souls fall into the abyss.’

Phew! I was there on the precipice too, weren’t you? Very effective writing.

I can’t include snippets from everyone’s work here (although I must make mention of William, George, Arianne, Danny, Lucy and Kelsey’s terrific image of ‘mountains crumbling like fresh cookies’), but I really appreciate all the hard work put in by every student, and I can assure you I read and enjoyed every entry.

It is a wonderful thing for any author to think that a visit could inspire such clever and creative responses. But I am a little worried… After all, on the basis of this inspiring selection, in a few short years these children could be fully fledged authors in their own right! I’d better warn all my author friends – we need to up our game!

Caterham Kids Creepy Creativity!!!

Monday, March 26th, 2012

At the invitation of brilliant school librarian Jane Damesick, I recently visited the wonderful Caterham School in Surrey. I was due to hold one of my infamous Witch Trials on school premises (and, as usual, I found that the place was rife with foul sorcerers!). What made this visit particularly special, however, was all the amazing artwork and creative writing projects awaiting me in the library! One of the greatest hopes of any writer is to inspire other people – especially young people – to be creative, and so I was truly moved by all this terrific (and terrifying!) work kickstarted by the Witchfinder books. Jane has very kindly forwarded me lots of photos of the children’s ingenious pieces and I am determined to post all the pics here over the next week or so. Here’s the first batch of witchy goodness from the talented kids of Caterham! CLICK THE PICS FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK… IF YOU DARE!!!!

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