So today is World Book Day. As our daughter Hermione trundled off to nursery dressed as the Snow Queen (yes, in hindsight we should have gone for Hermione Granger as an outfit choice), I too found myself heading towards a school. When I was young, World Book Day was the day that I always went into junior school dressed as Charlie Bucket, from Roald Dahl's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. I would have with me a bar of Galaxy, wrapped in a Wonka bar wrapper made for me by my sisters, and inside would be a golden ticket, also made by my sisters. In senior school, the tradition of dressing up disappears, and so, since then World Book Day generally passes me by. Today, however, that changed.
The school I was heading to was Robert Napier in Gillingham. The reason I was going there, was to talk as an author to a class of Year 10's. I was asked to discuss how I started as a writer, how I ended up self published, how being self published works, and how I would come up with characters, settings etc. For me, it was an opportunity to promote my book, to discuss a topic that carries with it a lot of meaning to me, and to put Michael J Cuell the author out there to a whole new audience. However, doing a talk like this, is about far more than just self promotion. It is about trying to inspire a younger generation. As I said to them at the very start of my talk, if there was one thing I wanted to be taken from the day, it was for me to get the message across that if you really want to achieve something, if you put your mind to it, then you can achieve it.
Now, sitting listening to an old bore like me wittering on, can most certainly be a snooze fest for some. I would be exactly the same. Stick me in a room with someone talking at me, and invariably I will get bored and tired, no matter what the subject. So I can understand that the talk will not have been for everyone, that for some it was 40 minutes of their day that they just won't get back! Hopefully though, there will be some students who did find the talk enjoyable, who maybe even found it beneficial, even if it is in the smallest way. One girl at the end told me that she loved the anime style postcard of The Lost King, and that she loved to draw anime. Even in that brief moment, to have someone share with me their passion, to give me a glimpse into something that means so much to her, made me feel that perhaps my talk had achieved what I hoped it would.
On a very personal level, it was amazing for me to hear a piece of my own book read out loud by someone else. I have read the story several times, such is the process of writing it in the first place. I have had conversations with people about the story, and the characters. Never before though, had I ever heard it read out, and I must say, it was a thrill. It made the book sound so professional, as if it was someone else's work, and I actually wanted to hear more! Maybe finding someone to record an audio book for me is the next idea to explore!!
Finally, let me finish on this. I am well aware of how it can be at school. I have been there when we have had a guest in, or been on a trip, and I have wanted to ask questions, but didn't because I was worried what others around me may think, or what they might say. Even as an adult, I at times want to say something or ask a question, but end up not doing so through nerves. So, for any of those students who attended the talk today, if you have a question you would really like to ask, but were not able to at the time, then please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer the best I can.
Oh, and to the young girl who did come over and express her passion for drawing, and took with her one of the anime postcards, if you ever read the book, 'fan art' is always welcome, and I would be happy to put your work on my website and instagram, to help share your talent with the world.
Happy World Book Day everyone!
If you would like to listen to the talk, then here it is!