Year 7 enjoyed an inspiring talk from author Natasha Farrant about stories, imagination and writing books. The world is full of stories, which start with the question "What if?" and are told in many ways: books, films, games, music, dreams. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and family life is often full of incidents. She took one of the incidents in After Iris from a real-life event, where a neighbour's guinea pigs had unexpectedly multiplied! Another theme was the importance of "secondary characters". In Lydia, her most recent book, a re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice, the youngest Bennett sister is portrayed as adventurous and spirited, rather than as "vain, idle and completely uncontrollable". Natasha believes that Lydia has been much maligned over the past 200 years, and very much wanted to re-write the story to give her a voice. As she said "Everyone has their story".
Some Year 7 students then participated in creative writing workshops, led by Natasha, where they took a secondary character from a favourite book, and wrote their story. One student pointed out that such characters are like cogs in a clock – take away even a small cog, and the clock won't work. The day finished with an informal "Meet the Author" in the library, where Natasha signed books and talked to students in more depth about their writing. Natasha complimented Year 7 on their reading and listening, and also on the quality of their written work. We went away with lots to think about. Thanks to Natasha Farrant for a great author visit. Thanks to Ms Kelsall and the English department, and Ms Hammer and the Year 7 team for their co-operation in organising the day.
Author Natasha Farrant with Year 7 students and Ms Hammer (Head of Year 7) in the Seward Studio