Thursday 22nd December 2005 by C. Freeman
Budding novelists from Brooke Weston were given some great tips from acclaimed children's writer, Malorie Blackman: 'Write about what you are interested in, try to find your own style, and finally, don't give up!' was her advice during a 'meet the author' session in Northampton.
Malorie, who has had more than 50 books published had to be persistent when starting out on her own writing career. She received 82 rejection letters before getting her first book deal. Now, 15 years on she has won many prizes and awards, and has even received a BAFTA for Pig Heart Boy, voted best children's drama in 2000. Eight students and four staff from Brooke Weston attended the event held at Hunsbury library in Northampton where Malorie read extracts from her books, gave a talk about her ideas, then fielded questions from many young fans before finishing her evening with a marathon book signing session!
Meeting Malorie Blackman
Brooke Weston Librarian, Charlie Smith had already promoted Malorie's work as part of the Year 7 and 8 reading group, members of which went on the trip, so they were already familiar with many of the books which Malorie read from or talked about. Malorie's love of books dates back to her own childhood where she frequented the library from dawn to dusk on a Saturday, even taking her own packed lunch along! However, as a young black girl she found there were no books that reflected her own experience, and so, she now writes about the hard issues of adolescence, such as racism, bullying, animal rights and family problems. Some of her best known work is a trilogy; Noughts and Crosses, Knife Edge and Checkmate which look at issues of racism from a whole new angle where society is split into two, the ruling class being the crosses and the underclass, the noughts. 'The name noughts and crosses sums up racism for me,' she said,'nobody's going to win, so why bother playing?'
At the Malorie Blackman exhibition
Malorie, who still adores fiction for young adults, numbers fellow writers such as Philip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson as her favourite authors and she loves thrillers and detective books, which explain why much of her own work is concerned with subterfuge and conspiracy. As well as being a gifted writer, Malorie is also a fantastic speaker and had the audience captivated with great stories. She related how once she sent her husband on a fact-finding mission to check out the entrances, exits and staircases in Heathrow airport as part of the research for her book, Hacker. He duly noted down all the relevant details in a notebook only to find himself surrounded by four very suspicious armed policemen!
The staff and students really enjoyed their visit and, who knows, Malorie's sparkle and enthusiasm may have kick-started the writing bug in one of the Brooke Weston contingent?!