Firsts and Lasts: my Read Regional adventure!

Author Niel Bushnell at Doncaster Library
Niel ends his Read Regional adventure in Thorne. (Picture copyright Doncaster Libraries)

It’s hard to believe it’s over already! Yesterday was my last Read Regional event, at a library in Thorne near Doncaster. And what a great way to finish; the pupils from King Edward School were attentive, engaging and asked some great questions.

I’ve enjoyed all of the events I’ve done in very different ways. They’ve varied from small presentations and creative writing workshops for 20 or 30 pupils up to a 300 plus crowd of teenagers in a tiered school hall. I can imagine how comedians feel as they stare at those rows of seats, each set of eyes demanding to be entertained! I’ve certainly learned a lot doing these talks!

Young people are naturally creative and this is something that, for many reasons, they often lose as they grow up. Imagination and creativity are sometimes undervalued in school children, after all these are not things that can be easily measured by Ofsted or in a GCSE, but they are fundamental to almost every walk of life from innovation to business and even sport. The teachers and librarians I’ve met understand the value of creativity and do more than their bit to nurture it in their pupils.

But it’s not all been creative fun! I’ve had more than a few bizarre questions that have stopped me in my tracks. Most authors are used to the typical questions they might get at an event: Where do you get your ideas from? How much do you earn? What’s your favourite author? But it’s the left-field questions that linger in the mind the longest: What’s your favourite word? What do you regret most in your life? Can you do a back flip? (If you’re interested the answers to all those questions are: All over the place! About 50p per book. I have lots but I’d probably say Alan Moore, Arthur C Clarke and Douglas Adams. Follicle. Not going to University. No.)

The experience has challenged me, and I think I’ve grown into the role as I’ve done more events. The best part has been the overwhelming enthusiasm I’ve seen for books and stories, and being able to meet and talk with so many keen readers who have bought my books and asked me to sign them. Their love of reading is obvious to see.

I’ll leave you with a few stats from my Read Regional adventure:

Events: 8
Distance travelled: 897 miles
Wrong turns taken: 7
Cans of diet coke consumed: 15
Pupils at events: 615
Pupils falling off chairs: 1
Pupils with nosebleeds: 1
Questions asked: 136


Writer & Artist based in the North East of England.

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