|Orton Hall in the sunshine|
This is Orton Hall, near Peterborough, now a hotel with a swimming pool and spa. I spent last weekend there with 39 other children's writers. The February conference of the Scattered Authors Society was held there for the third time in a row - the only difference being that this year I was one of the organisers. Anne Rooney and I had been putting it together for months and called it Who Dares Writes.
It's hard to write about what went on because of the first rule of the conference: "What happens in Peterborough stays in Peterborough." But a little boasting might be in order and some veiled allusions.
We had been lucky enough to secure Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman as our outside speaker and her warmth intelligence and humour kept everyone spellbound.
|Picture credit: Jo Cotterill|
Liz Kessler and Abie Longstaff
They made lists of what they had learned and there are no embargoes on knowing that most children's writers have black swimming costumes or the inadvisability of looking up "beaver" on the Internet.
Our fellow practitioners advised on mind-mapping, comedic tropes, writing a synopsis, avoiding "saggy middle," napping, writing "gritty fiction," the variety of ways in which in which people got started in publishing.
And we heard, as usual, some horror stories (ssh!). And some remarkable pieces of good fortune. We saw pictures of several people's writing "rooms." There was and Earnings and Yearnings survey miraculously analysed in a few hours by Anne Rooney. I don't think I am revealing any trade secrets by saying that the lowest advance ever offered to a Scattered Author was exactly zero.
Apart from that, all I can tell you is that the snowdrops were nice!