Wednesday February 10th saw me leaving Leicestershire and heading back in to Nottinghamshire for the 2016 Brilliant Books. Apparently Nottingham and Leicester aren't the best of friends at the moment (something to do with some game called “football”. I believe our American friends call it “soccer”.). But I was willing to take that risk because this is one of my favourite times of the year.
Brilliant Books is an initiative that encourages reluctant readers in schools to get involved with reading and creative writing. The team bring in people who they find to be an inspiration and have them talk about their favourite books. At the end of the eight weeks, the students stories are compiled into a single volume that anyone can buy.
Last year, we did War of the Worlds. This year, to keep with the Victorian theme, I picked another HG Wells classic in The Time Machine.
The Time Machine has been placed on film a number of times but the book, with its wonderfully winding imagery, is still a joy to read. We went over chapter two which looks at the protagonist's initial journey into the future.
From The Time Machine we jumped to War of the Worlds, including the infamous Orson Welles radio broadcast. Explaining how it caused panic back when it was first broadcast was fun and interesting. It also gives an idea of just how quickly technology has developed in the past century.
We spoke about how the Victorian era is being translated by modern authors via Steampunk. World building and detailing were also issues we talked about, including how to get an image across to a reader, especially if the subject matter is unfamiliar to many people. Along the way, we touched on copyright (one book I had with me was Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. By that point, the characters he used would have been out of copyright).
I did prepare another spooky story but we were did so much talking that it wasn't needed! (Last year, we talked about Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. This time I was going to tell the story of Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk. The incident that took place there is sometimes referred to as the UK's Roswell).
One part of the day that I thoroughly enjoyed was reading over some of the students stories. These guys are talented and are already running rings around some writers! Their ideas are clever and well executed and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished stories.
Going and speaking to the students of Nottingham's Free school was an honour. Being given the chance to pass on a love of reading, writing and creating was a privilege. To spend time with them is also an inspiration to myself and I always find myself coming home with new and exciting ideas. Brilliant Books is a fantastic project to bring young people together and get them creating. It's an initiative that I'm hoping will be going for many years to come.
A number of well known indie authors are included in a book that it is helping to keep Brilliant Books going. I was very blessed to be included alongside some well known names from the indie circles including Brenda Perlin, Georgia Rose, Mark Barry and Lynne Morley. You can find out here how I crammed God, the Devil, a chess match, Dave Grohl, Lemmy, Metallica, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, U2 and the Birds of Satan into less than 1100 words: