I just returned from England where I mixed a bit of work with pleasure. England has always proven to be a source of inspiration to me, so I’m happy to have returned some of it on this trip by appearing at Gravely School in Hertfordshire. I’ve presented to kids in Canada, the US and South Korea, but this was my first time speaking professionally in England.
I led a workshop for about sixty children aged nine to eleven years old, telling them about my Kendra Kandlestar books and the mythical land of Een, followed up with an exercise in which we designed our own characters. I’m happy to report that kids are kids, the world over…even though there were no rules for this exercise, it seems to me that most kids ended up drawing creatures replete with all the usual beastly accoutrements—warts, boils, drool, and jagged teeth! (And let me add here, that it is always the girls that demand populating their creatures’ faces with long-haired warts!)
After the workshop was completed, I held a book sale and the kids went off to work on short stories based on the characters they had developed. All in all, the day was a big success!
Of course, England continued to deliver inspiration to me. During the trip, my girlfriend and I trudged through the rain and visited the ancient Roman ruins of Verulamium, located in the town of St. Albans. My next Kendra Kandlestar book features a gladiator pit of sorts, so I enjoyed gazing upon the remains of the old Verulamium arena and imagining it back in its glory. Nowadays, the most vicious thing you’ll find in the arena is one of the resident bunnies, but back in Roman times, spectators might have seen a vicious combat of man versus beast. It’s doubtful that lions every found their way to Verulamium, but you might have seen some poor soul square off against a bear.
Finally, what would a trip to England be without a visit to one of my favourite pubs? I made sure to have a pint in Ye Old Chesire Cheese, located down on Fleet Street in London. The pub was a haunt of such literary types as Dickens, Johnson, and Twain. Hopefully, I soaked in some more inspiration, and not just the brew!