Well, this is a very big day: my first ABBA post, and my very first Skype chat with a school. I was going to blog about something very thoughtful and interesting and meaningful, but am so excited at the thought of stepping boldly forth at the forefront of technology (oh yeah!), that I'm going to blog about that instead. So the meaningful stuff will have to wait till next time. I know, I know, you're dreadfully disappointed - well, you'll just have to live with it.
So - Dame Alice School in Bedford contacted me a while ago and asked if I'd be interested in trying out a Skype author chat with them. We exchanged a few thoughts, but then, not hearing anything more for a while, I thought it probably wasn't going to happen. But just before 12, the little green symbol started bleeping, and we were in business.
And it was lovely! Very relaxed: I didn't have to dress up, I didn't have to fret about finding my way to a school I'd never been to before, I didn't have to drive to the other side of the country. But I did have the chance to talk to some delightful students about writing and reading and to answer quite a few qustions - and to ask some.
It was a great opportunity to find out a bit about what they're reading and what they've enjoyed reading - that would be Twilight, obviously, and then more Twilight; but they also got a lot out of reading The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and The Book Thief, they would like to read more about issues, such as teenage pregnancy and bullying; they find there aren't many books about those sorts of issues. Hm, interesting... I recommended Ellen Renner's Castle of Secrets for the younger ones; I've just read it, so it was fresh in my mind. The characters are wonderful (especially the charismatically evil Prime Minister), the story grips and intrigues and the writing is enchanting. And of course I recommended my books. Well, I think I did.
I see a lot of potential for Skype chatting. It seems a very good way for children to talk to published writers, and for writers to connect directly with readers. And interacting with that particular variety of new technology makes me feel a bit better about still not quite having got the hang of Facebook. So thank you very much to the students at Dame Alice School, and to their lovely librairan, Suzanna: I really enjoyed talking to you!
I have, in fact, done so much talking in the last couple of days that my voice sounds like a rusty saw. This is because I was at the SAS conference in Coventry, when thirty six children's writers venture, pale and nervously blinking, out of their huts, attics and cafes, to gather together and talk... and talk... and talk. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones; it was particularly good to meet Sarwat Chadda and Paul Dowswell, whose books I've reviewed for Armadillo. And I've heard about new books I'm looking forward to reading, particularly Inbali Iserles' books, The Bloodstone Bird and The Tygrine Cat.
However - enough of all this skyping and blogging and Facebooking and whatnot. It really is time to retreat to the hut and do some writing.