Author hopes to inspire young writers after Wolverhampton school event

Youngsters with a love of questing were given a chance to meet and question an author who shares their enthusiasm.

Chris Smith is pictured with school librarian Zoe Rowley and students Rohin, Grace, Kaiden, Dhruv and Apryl from Wolverhampton Grammar School, Beacon Hill Academy and Our Lady & St Chad Catholic School
Chris Smith is pictured with school librarian Zoe Rowley and students Rohin, Grace, Kaiden, Dhruv and Apryl from Wolverhampton Grammar School, Beacon Hill Academy and Our Lady & St Chad Catholic School

Chris Smith visited Wolverhampton Grammar School on Wednesday to deliver a presentation about his new book, Frankie Best Hates Quests, to Year 4 to 6 pupils from the grammar school and Year 7 pupils from other schools in the city.

The session saw the Radio 1 news presenter and author talk about his book, which is the first in a series about a girl who hates fantasy stories, and chat with the pupils about the book and what they like about fantasy stories.

Chris said the session, which is part of a mini-tour around the country, was a great opportunity to finally see people in person after two years of Zoom calls.

He said: "I've teamed up with Authors Aloud, which is an amazing organisation that gets authors into schools and talks to the children to try and get them inspired about reading and about writing their own stories.

"It was just brilliant to be there and see them all in person as it's the first live event I've been able to do after two years of lockdown and doing things over Zoom, which is all well and good but no substitute for actually meeting them in person.

"We chatted about the book and I tried to help them with a bit of story structure, breaking down ideas and how stories begin, by drawing up a map and helping them to make up an adventure that took place there, so it was great to be there."

Chris said the life of an author can be a solitary one and events like this were a great opportunity to get out and make the books feel real through talking to youngsters about reading and their favourite stories.

He said the book, which tells the story of a girl forced to go on a quest to rescue her grandfather from gnoblins through a magical realm full of strange creatures, was influenced from his own love of fantasy books.

He said: "There's a lot of life experience of my own drawn from a lot of the books I love and it's a loving tribute to books like The Hobbit and the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

"There's lots of references in the book that grown ups reading the books with their kids might spot, with little Easter eggs from things like the Princess Bride, the Dark Crystal and Lord of the Rings.

"It's really a tribute to all the stuff that I really, really loved when I was a kid and still love now."

Chris said he felt events like the one at Wolverhampton Grammar School were also very important as he said that children always remember a good school visit, and hoped they could be inspired by the event.

He said: "That's what is so great about Author Aloud as they bring real authors into schools to actually sit down with kids and have a chat with them and make it a thing that not just a few privileged people get to do.

"I hope they know that they can write their own stories and there's nothing holding you back and, hopefully, there'll be a few kids there that will be inspired to get creative and realise it's not a scary thing to do.

"It was really exciting for me to meet loads of kids that made me laugh and made me excited for writing the next part of the series."

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