It’s July and I’m posting the last entry of my day at the Somerset Literary Festival in March 2018. Thank you, readers, for bearing with me, (I’ve started a new job and the training and learning period has been full time.)
To round off a marvellous day, I rushed from the marquee on the oval up to the room that used to be the Library now called the Senior Learning Centre, and I knew it had air conditioning and comfortable seats. I arrived before the children and took a place at the front of the room. Rachel Spratt was setting up. The first thing she did was draw a sketch on the board of Nanny Piggins. I admire anyone who can draw and my heart cheered. Her young daughter was drawing smiles on the whiteboard.
Summary of my day at Somerset 15th March 2018 – Part Four By Jill Smith©July 2018
1.45 to 2.30 R A Spratt
R.A. Spratt is about to launch the first book in her new series The Peski Kids, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach. The story of siblings who have to stop fighting with each other for just long enough to fight crime. R.A. Spratt also wrote Friday Barnes, Girl Detective, an eight-part series set in an exclusive boarding school with deeply eccentric staff and students.
She also wrote The Adventures of Nanny Piggins, a nine book series about an impossibly glamorous flying pig who ran away from a circus to become a childcare worker and flagrantly ignore all contemporary theories about healthy eating. R.A. Spratt enjoys getting hate tweets from exasperated readers who claim to be dying of frustration due to the cliff-hanger endings. R.A. has written for 32 different television shows. Even she has trouble remembering what they were all called.
R.A. Spratt lives in Bowral, Australia with her husband and two daughters. She has three chickens and five goldfish, and a desperately needy dog.
The children were younger than in previous sessions and Rachel was loud and grabbed their attention from the start. Before she began the session I whispered to her daughter ‘I bet she’s a great mum!’ She agreed with a nod.
Rachel started by saying she was fabulous, that they should all know that from the start.
Then she explained that she was a children’s writer and TV writer.
She asked the audience if they knew who Nanny Piggins was?
There was a lot of giggling and affirmative answers.
She then asked – who likes books? – who’s your favourite author? She went on to explain about Nanny Piggins. She likes to make the titles self-explanatory – like Nanny Piggins Saves Christmas. She read a little of the story. Then she introduces the characters – Derek, Samantha and Micheal. Pink Pig is 4 feet tall but Boris is a 10-foot dancing Bear!
Where do you get your inspiration from? – Her answer to her own question is that you should treat your brain like a compost bin. Chuck in an idea and it can come out as something you can use.
She got one idea from an awards night, her brother was getting an award. The Deputy Headmaster asked if there was anyone who could play the piano. So she wrote a story that showcases Boris as a ballet dancer.
She brings out her props her ukulele and flute. She runs to the window to yells out at the window. The audience found this hysterical.
She loves Jane Austin, Robin Klien – Halfway across the galaxy turn left!
How does she use her imagination? She does school presentations and works from home she loves dates and chocolates.
Never let having terrible ideas stop you writing. She’s had seventeen books published already and the next one is about to be published.
Brother is rich and she always runs him down. Lots of emotion and drama in her life with a conflict between brother or sister.
So one kid in the audience asked Rachel – how many years have you been crazy?
She baulked briefly then went on in a more serious vein. Comedy writers are really good at lateral thinking, sometimes they cover painful parts of their life. She had a hernia as an infant and was in constant pain. It made her process information differently.
She picked up her ukulele and sang.
She concluded by saying it’s super important to think creatively. Whatever you do in life is problem-solving. Think of all the possibilities.
As the audience left the room I grabbed the chance to say thanks for a wonderful session and get my copy of Friday Barnes Girl Detective signed. This was my last session and I knew when Rachel goes to the bookshop there would be a cue to get her signature. I left the school happy for another dose of writing inspiration.