Last week I was spoiled rotten - I got to visit schools every day for a full week and chat about books and writing with over 600 children between the ages of 4 and 17. It was great fun!
We read together, played games, took part in quizzes, chatted, laughed, wrote our way through creative writing workshops and enjoyed q&a exchanges. I visited school libraries, class rooms, assembly halls, cafeterias and staff rooms - meeting a wonderful mix of lovely friendly folk along the way.
On Tuesday I even had the privilege of visiting the school that was my inspiration for Emily's school in 'Demon's Daughter' and it was just as I hoped it would be - there was even a quad exactly as my imagination had conjured up. Excellent!
During one of the visits, after a particularly energetic and enthusiastic workshop, one of the pupils came up to chat to me afterwards. We talked a little about Louis Sachar, growing imaginations and how books get published and then he lifted a book from the table beside us and opened it to the dedication page. Biting his lip, he asked carefully, 'Who decides what name goes here?' I should point out that this young man had been the king of comedy during the workshop - always laughing and smiling, full of life, energy and questions - so his change of demeanour took me by surprise a little. 'The author,' I answered, fairly certain where the conversation was heading.
I've never been more wrong about someone in my life.
He nodded and sighed, glancing away for a moment, his face turning a little red, and then he looked me in the eye and said quietly, 'My friend is dying of cancer, please would you put his name on that page in your next book so that he knows I'm thinking of him.'
Stunned, I asked him to write his friend's name down for me and told him that I'd think about it. He nodded, thanked me for a great workshop, wrote the name down and then left for his next class.
Consider me suitably humbled for judging that particular book by its cover.
Bailey - I haven't forgotten.