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Published on July 21st, 2019 | by The Town Crier


Celebrated author, Jenny McLachlan, captivates imaginations at Beacon Academy

On Friday 5 July, Beacon Academy students were treated to a fascinating insight into the world of being a published writer when popular author, Jenny McLachlan visited the school.

The celebrated author of fiction for children and teenagers worked with more than sixty Year 7 students over three workshops, helping them to “find the book within them”. The students were engrossed as Jenny led them through the stages of planning and writing their own book. Firstly, thinking about the setting, then the characters and the “driver” of the plot.

Jenny helped the students to generate ideas that could sell well in the current book market and explained that you do not have to be writer to work in the book industry. The students were encouraged to use their interests and imaginations to create a commercial package that could be pitched to an agent or publisher, including a design and tag line for the book jacket. Jenny was impressed by the students’ ideas, commenting, “The students were a pleasure to work with: imaginative, keen to learn and very enthusiastic. I felt very welcome at Beacon Academy and staff were very supportive of the visit. There is clearly a thriving reading and arts culture at the school. I want to read so many of the students’ books!”

The students thoroughly enjoyed the workshops and were inspired to develop their ideas further. Year 7 student, Sophia, said, ‘I am going to keep writing my book when I get home.”

Students from across the Academy attended a “meet and greet” book signing in the Library during lunch time, when Jenny signed copies of Stargazing for Beginners and Truly, Wildly, Deeply with a personalised message for each student.

The author then gave a fun and interactive presentation to all Year 7 students in the Main Hall, making the students laugh with embarrassing stories and explaining what compelled her to write and to pursue her dream to become published.

The students were given an exclusive insight into the inspiration behind and the creation of The Land of Roar, Jenny’s new title to be published in September. Jenny’s publisher, Egmont, had kindly provided two beautifully designed proof copies of the fantasy novel, to be given to two lucky students on the day of the event. Jenny explained that the winners would be among the first young people ever to read it which made the students feel very special indeed.

The day finished up with an informal Q&A session with Jenny in the Library. The Library was full of students from across the year groups and staff who came to participate in the discussion. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed lots of cake and students lingered chatting to Jenny. When asked what advice she would offer to young writers, Jenny explained, “I would say first of all to keep doing lots and lots of reading to expand your knowledge of the world, and secondly, keep writing and never give up!”

Miss Emma Furlong, Leader of Key Stage 3 English at Beacon Academy, said, “What a fantastic day seeing students have the opportunity to be creative and use their imaginations to explore different avenues of writing. Jenny was a true inspiration, giving tips about how best to start writing a book as well as sharing very exciting information about her latest novel. Students were engaged, insightful, passionate and hard working. What a wonderful day within the English Department, especially as we had the opportunity to use our new Library as well!”

Beacon Academy would like to thank The East Grinstead Bookshop and Egmont UK for their support of the event.

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