Farts are funny. Comedy gold. Unless, perhaps, you’re mid-way through a speech to a Year 9 assembly…
I aim for my talks to hit a range of notes, to have highs and lows. It was during a sombre moment, a pause for dramatic effect, that a student let one rip.
To their credit, most of his peers kept it together. The hall did not erupt into riotous laughter. If the flatulent one was intending anarchy, I score his bold bid a fail.
Up at the lectern, I considered a wisecrack response but a) didn’t find a retort quickly enough and b) figured it was better not to acknowledge the eruption. I chose to stay the course and chalk it up to another Book Week moment.
For those of us who write for young people, Book Week can be the busiest five-days of the year. In my city Book Week blends into the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, prolonging the bookish buzz.
Authors and illustrators are out and about everywhere. If you spot a pale-skinned individual blinking in the city sunlight, there’s a fair chance you are watching a wordsmith newly emerged from solitary confinement in front of a computer screen.
In my case, Book Week morphed into three solid weeks of public speaking and conducting writing workshops in schools. There were plenty of memorable moments but one stands out. It reminds me why I write YA fiction.
My second novel, Five Parts Dead, is studied by Yr 10 students at an excellent school in Melbourne’s west. For the past few years I have worked with each class as they studied my story – an experience that tends to be as instructive for me as the young readers.
I’ve known for a while that my first novel, Game as Ned, is studied at a couple of schools. However, I haven’t ever had an invitation to visit and converse with the students. That changed this week.
I spoke to a Yr 8 assembly and tackled a wide range of no-holds-barred questions.
I was particularly chuffed to have teachers tell me that Game as Ned is “a joy to teach” because the students enjoy reading it. But the best piece of feedback came as I headed to the staffroom for a cuppa.
A teacher took me aside to tell me that one of her most reluctant readers had been caught out reading Game as Ned – in a History class, with the book hidden under his desk. Asked why he was reading his English text in History, he said it was because he couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. I call that a win.