Keynote speaker Julia Eccleshare opened the conference by covering the following areas for discussion: The books today’s writers are writing and why and giving a brief introduction commentating on the current scene in children’s books – what is on offer and some of the reasons why. She moved on to offer her observations on the common starting points for creative writing and the common themes that work. Julia also offered insights on training to be a writer, how to connect with an author and what authors say about writing that can inspire and nurture creativity in readers. She talked of finding insights into why authors write the stories that they do. Julia commented that connecting with your own story as being the surest way of writing your own fiction – the importance of personal narrative.
Delegates then moved to attend one of the four morning workshops:
The Conference then gathered all together again to listen to award-winning author, Piers Torday, talk about his experiences of becoming a writer and the influences that have shape his work and make it so impactful for readers, parents and teachers.
After lunch, delegates again moved to attend one of the four workshops as listed above – this system offered delegates the opportunity to pick and choose from the programme to suit their needs whilst maximising the opportunity to discover new and original ideas for developing their creative writing skills. When the conference gathered together again afterwards, Bookfest explained the format and timeline for the Schools’ Week 2019 project – the first step in the project being this Conference.
Piers Torday and local primary school teacher, Simone Goward, then shared their very personal experiences of author visits from their own perspectives. Seemingly minor, but important, suggestions such as making sure the school office was aware of the visit and making sure the children know what the author looks like before he/she arrives!
The Conference drew to a reluctant close as the workshop leaders and key note speakers came together to share their collective thoughts on the day and the issues that have been raised. There was plenty of passionate, positive and valuable feedback and discussion from the audience which suggests that there was real engagement and serious impact being made on all involved.
Some feedback comments from delegates included: