On Tuesday 2nd May 2017, I had the privilege to spend the evening at ‘The Priory Ruskin Academy’ in Grantham. I was invited in to talk about Aphora, how I came up with the story, how long it took to write, how the characters evolved and so on. The school were fantastic at hosting me, offering drinks and canapes for attendees. I had the pleasure of meeting several students who were avid readers and I really enjoyed meeting my target audience! They were wonderful, engaged and it was clear reading is in an important part of their school life. Reading is also a passion of mine and think this love of reading should be promoted within schools as it is such an important aspect of daily life.
After having met several people before the event started, it was amazing to be able to talk so in depth about Aphora and share how my own experiences led me to this world I have fallen so in love with. I wrote the first chapter whilst at school for a piece of GCSE coursework in year 10. At 15, I was fully immersed in all things supernatural and just could not pass up the opportunity to get some of the crazy ideas that run through my head on paper. The encouragement from my English teacher to continue writing it was all the support I needed at that point, I felt ‘wow, maybe I have something here’ and so the next few years I spent writing Aphora on and off. I spoke about how to begin with, I didn’t really know about Cate or Aphora itself, the opening chapter was already formed in my head and it wasn’t until I thought about a story arc (thank you to all English teachers who taught me how to use one!) that the world of Aphora was formed. I finished Aphora during my degree but left it alone when I first entered work. It wasn’t until I started teaching myself, surrounded by uncapped imagination, that I wondered why I wasn’t pursuing it. It was then I brought Aphora out to edit and publish. I won’t go into all the boring details about publishing now but, as I mentioned to the students on Tuesday, to me, getting my story out there was for me. If I’m not writing for myself, to please myself, then what’s the point? I am taking small steps every day to fulfil my dream of being an author. And guess what? I already am. If it wasn’t for following another passion of mine - working with children - I may never had had the realisation that I had to publish Aphora and that I had to continue writing. What I made clear at the event was that my head is full of ideas, some might say weird ideas (my dad still brings up how I have to have my curtains closed properly in case there is something outside) but are we all not a little weird? Wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same?
Like the children I work with, I always seem to find endless ideas and possibilities: worlds, places, people, events, they come to me through dreams, through reading and using what I come across in my daily life. I would struggle if I couldn’t express that. So I will continue to write, one small step at a time. Sometimes I will be extremely busy at work (teaching can sometimes take over your life!), but with careful planning I can make room for all my passions. I spend my days working with some amazing children, hoping that I am making a small difference, and then I spend my holidays writing. I work harder during the week so that I free my weekends up to see my family and keep up to date with my website and events. It is possible if you make it so. I may also be an avid Disney fan and Walt Disney has one of my favourite ever quotes, one I think it quite appropriate for my imagination and work ethic: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Whether you are one of my students or a reader, if there is one small piece of advice I can share, it is that.
With thanks to Gary Lawrence for photography!
Photo credit: Gary Lawrence