On 2nd February we were lucky enough to welcome international best-selling author Joseph Delaney to UG to hear him talk about his work, and we were delighted to be one of 4 schools that Joseph selected to visit at the start of a 2 week tour which will see him speak at literary events and bookshops around the country.
Joseph has published many titles, among them the hugely successful Arena 13 and Starblade Chronicles, but he is most famous for the Spook’s Apprentice series of books, of which there are 13; the first was released as the major film The Seventh Son in 2015. Formerly a teacher of English, Joseph discussed how he was inspired to follow his childhood dream of becoming an author and the difficulties that he encountered on his journey from the classroom to professional writing – in fact we learnt that it was only when his books `broke` America that he was able to leave teaching and concentrate on writing. Perhaps it was this reason that his favourite book from his catalogue is The Spook’s Battle, which is the first he produced as a full-time writer.
Accompanied by a visual display of his key characters and settings, Joseph plunged us into the intriguing world of the Spooks and the legend of the power bestowed upon the seventh son of the seventh son. We were then transported to Arena 13, an exhilarating fantasy realm where warriors fight and death is never far away. This prompted excited questions from the audience. Following the presentation a huge number of students bought one or more of Joseph’s books and patiently waited to meet him; this bears testimony to his powerful words on reading. Indeed Ben Twelvetree 9M, Nathan Heys 8T and Poppie Corbishley 7U all comment that although they had never previously read any of Joseph’s books, the `fascinating` talk has inspired them to read not only this author’s work, but to read more in general.
Joseph then gave us a revealing insight into the transition of his first novel to the big screen, which took almost 7 years and 3 changes of director – the first of whom was the legendary Tim Burton. Joseph told us that he was disappointed at the decision to film in Canada and not in his beloved Lancashire, the county which inspired the backdrop for his Spooks books. He entertained us with anecdotes from the filming and explained how some of the casting did not correspond with his vision of the character. When asked by Luke Bradley 9M if there were plans for any more films, Joseph revealed that it is uncertain, but that he has hopes for a TV adaptation of the Spooks series.
“You can’t just be reading books all the time and leave the writing of them to others”, so says a character in Joseph’s book The Spook’s Secret, and the final segment of the presentation made a lasting impression on the audience: Joseph’s honest discussion of the challenging journey to becoming a writer and his insights into the writing process, a key element of which he revealed is to note down ideas as soon as they strike. Compelling inspiration for Urmston Grammar students to log their own thoughts and reflections in their Reading Journals! In fact Ella Kenny 9R testifies that the `whole enjoyable experience` has prompted her to `definitely think more about writing` itself. Similarly Rahul Patel 7U, who was in awe of such a famous presence here in our school, enthuses that the talk was an `inspiration for all young writers`. Sam Frost, Sanraj Datta and Harvey Caldeira 8M agree that for them the highlight of the `extremely interesting and entertaining` event was Joseph’s discussion of his creative technique and the difficulties he encountered in getting published. This, reflects Sam, was `very inspiring and really shows what determination to succeed can help you to accomplish, even in the face of initial defeat`. Luke Bradley 9M was equally impressed: `The most inspirational part of the visit wasn’t meeting Joseph Delaney himself (even though this in itself is an achievement) but the way he talked about his passion for writing and his insights into acting on your aspirations to become an author`.
It seems then that Joseph’s visit has generated a real buzz around reading – and writing – here at Urmston Grammar. For huge fans Alex Callister 7U and Oliver Wilkinson 7R the much-anticipated event fulfilled their expectations, and for Alex the privilege of engaging with a `natural born` writer and `mastermind` made this the `best event` so far of his time here at our school.
If you would like more information on Joseph Delaney and his work visit www.spooksbooks.com and his full catalogue is available in the Reading Room – although you may find that all the books are out on loan!