The other day, I was invited by my nephew to come into his grade 6 classroom and talk about my children’s fantasy novel, More Precious Than Rubies: The Return of the Norse Gods. This was the perfect venue for me to discuss the book since it was written for the age group in the room.
As a substitute teacher, I am used to addressing groups of children. I usually teach in the same schools where the teachers and students are so used to me coming in that they don’t see me as a stranger. So it was interesting that I felt out of my element, entering a school I’d never been in before, attaching an identification sticker to my shirt and being addressed by a caretaker as a stranger.
It is reassuring that staff are looking out for their students. This is necessary in all schools so I do not find it imposing to be questioned when I do enter unfamiliar territory.
I was greeted warmly by the students and proceeded to talk not only about the novel’s theme but also the process of writing: why it is important to write a rough draft, then revise, then do more drafts. Kids in school are used to these routines; what they do not realize is that some of their favourite books go through dozens of revisions before the finished product.
With my book, for instance, aside from the characters, one might have trouble connecting my first and last drafts or knowing that they are varied versions of the same novel.
The students gave me a lot of respect, listening politely. Questions were allowed at the end of my talk: ones like, How did you come up with the characters? And Do you plan on making a series based on the subject material?
I tried to accentuate the importance of character development and how I often take the characteristics of people I observe and roll them up into a single character.
As I left the class, I ended my presentation with a hope-filled promise: that I’d be back when I was published traditionally. So far, I have only had success with self-publication.
And, of course, I told them to keep writing.