Monday, 27 February 2012

It's Not All About the Writing

I spend most of my time hunched over my laptop, working alone at home. But this Thursday – 1 March – is World Book Day and like many children’s writers, I have been invited into a school for an Author Visit. This year, thanks to organiser and fellow author, Karen McCombie, I will be visiting Year 5 at Campsbourne School in Hornsey, north London. The main focus of my hour-long session will be Flash Fiction and I have already asked the children to make a blank mini-book in advance. I will also do a short reading from Spike and Ali Enson and from Skin Deep, plus a ‘lucky dip’ question and answer session.

So, everything’s under control then? Well, it was until yesterday when I remembered, in a minor panic, that the Campsbourne children – and teachers - may very well be dressing up as their favourite book characters to raise money for charity and that perhaps I need a costume of my own!

From the mask in my picture, you could be forgiven for thinking that I have gone for ‘Burglar Betty’, the good woman who reforms – and marries – Allan and Janet Ahlberg’s ‘Burglar Bill’. But you’d be wrong. The white lumps are the basis of my character’s costume and it occurs to me that I should probably offer a prize to anyone who can guess who it is.

My mask, together with the black cape and possibly some bright red or purple lycra, is actually for the School for Superheroes event the following week at Central Foundation Boys’ School in Islington. I will be running sessions for two groups of ninety Year 5 children from local primary schools as part of the CFBS secondary school transition programme, plus a small, informal session for Year 7 students squeezed in between. I am obviously not at liberty to reveal further details of my superhero identity as it may undermine my ability to save the world...

The day after, I have to be a grown-up and run a one-off workshop for university undergraduates on writing picture books – no dressing up required – and between these events, I have my regular weekly session at another university, offering 1:1 support with academic writing.

Honestly, I love my job!


  1. Reading this just reminded my why I have chosen the path of an author. What a great way to earn a crust!

  2. Oh brilliant Malaika! I hope you enjoy your school visit - your flash fiction idea looks great. I am in a school this Wednesday to celebrate World Book Day too... no matter how well I plan, I always get nervous beforehand. But, I always really enjoy these days when I', there too. Good luck with yours.

  3. I hope you have a great day, Malaika. I visited Campsbourne on WBD last year. It's a lovely, friendly school.