Sunday, 15 March 2015

All the fun of the school Lit Quiz ... by Miriam Halahmy

Until I started publishing books for young people I had never heard of Lit Quizzes. But in the past few years I have had the pleasure of being invited to Quiz days around the country and they are some of the most fun events I have been involved in. As my Y.A. novels are set on the south coast I have had repeat invites to both the Portsmouth Lit Quiz and the Chichester Lit Quiz, organised by Peter Bone, head of Portsmouth SLS.

At these quizzes four authors are invited and one of our books is chosen for the students to read. Each team will be tested on all four books as well as on the authors - so they have to trawl our websites too. Peter's favourite question about me has been, "What does Miriam Halahmy collect?" The kids love the answer; oceans. I have four so far and to collect an ocean I have to at least paddled in it. Just staring at freezing water doesn't count.

One of the great thing about quiz day is meeting up with authors you haven't seen for a year. We get plenty of time to chat and catch up, even though we also have to answer all the questions too. I usually meet up with Ali Sparkes although sadly at our most recent event she was too unwell to join us - next year!! But over the years I have also had a chance to chat to Andy Briggs, Andrew Norris, Jamie Thomson and Tom Easton. Between us we usually manage to answer most of the questions and come in at least in second place.
The students are of course in a great mood, hyped up to compete, win book tokens and hopefully the silver cup. We have a lot of fun walking round talking to them. They bring their mascots, take about a million selfies and answer some really tough questions without blinking - all before lunch! There are some very committed readers out there in our schools and the lit quiz is the perfect place to show off just how well read they are. Who says its nothing but computer games these days??

At both the Chichester and Portsmouth Lit Quizzes, the bookshop is always run by Colin Telford from the Hayling Island bookshop, smallest indie bookshop in the UK. The books are sold at a slight discount and many of the students win book tokens. But they usually buy extra books and even if they have read a book in the school library for the Quiz, they often buy their own copy so that they can get it signed. The book signing table gives us a chance to chat to the students a bit more too.

After all the quiz rounds, the tie breaks, the book signings and the selfies, its time to announce the winners. Davisons school won this year and Kerenza, on the winning team, emailed me the week after to say, "I've almost read STUFFED and I'm loving it. The structure is amazing. Definitely something I will read over and over!"  Another fantastic quiz and another fun filled day with everyone. I went home a very happy author.

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