"Our events with Perdita and Honor were brilliant. The blend of acting and writing/honest publishing advice mixed with hilarious anecdotes from their own experiences and audience participation made their events some of the best we've seen." Little Star Writing.
Going into schools and talking not just about the books and the real life drama stories that inspired them but also the process of collaborating is great fun and very rewarding. We're honest about the hard work involved in getting a book finished but we make sure that the students know how much satisfaction and laughter there can be along the way. And we're frank about Honor's dyslexia. It's important to us to emphasise the message that you don't need to be a star pupil at everything that the English curriculum throws at you to write stories.
Honor was still at school when the first book came out (she's at Oxford Uni now) so she can really relate to the school student audiences and the pressures they're under, academic and social (here's a light-hearted piece she wrote about set texts). All that drama when she was younger comes in very handy when it comes to engaging an audience of readers.
Perdita used to be a barrister and is much happier standing up in front of a class of readers talking about books than she used to be standing up in front of the House of Lords in her wig and gown. She was a reading helper at St Mary's School in Hampstead for several years.
The books and their audience
Elektra, the main character in our books is fifteen (she's turning sixteen at the end of the second book). The book is suitable for children 10 or 11 upwards and our core readership is probably found in years 7 to 9. We're happy to discuss content in more detail before any visit (for example, to point you towards any kissing passages!) so you can take a properly informed decision. Elektra is an actor-in-training so the books are a platform for talking about drama (and about failure and rejection) and we can build writing challenges around that theme. There are themes of very general interest too - friendship, first romance and family.
We try to be as flexible as possible - there's no one-size-fits-all presentation and we'd love to talk through what would be useful for the audience in advance of a visit. What follows is just to give a flavour of what we could offer.
- joint presentation (around an hour) focusing on the fun of collaborative writing. Typically we open by showing our short fun trailer and we talk about the books. But mostly we talk about our process and how we work together. And we talk about how other authors collaborate too and how many different ways there are to work with someone on a writing project. We want the students to feel excited and encouraged to try collaborating on writing projects (or any projects) themselves. We can include an extract read by one of us or a student but we always leave lots of time for questions.
- Workshops (up to an hour) led by one or both of us. Here the focus is getting the students inspired and writing. We like to use the drama theme and the script sections in the books to trigger some work. To give an example we might look at a scene like the one where Elektra is recording a voiceover for an advert (she plays the second most important squirrel!) and then challenge the students to write their own advert script, perhaps working in pairs (collaboration again). The text in the books is broken up by, for example, lists, emails and extracts from made up magazines and websites and this gives us lots of opportunities to come up with fun short writing exercises in different formats.
Find details about bookings here.
'Perdita and Honor's visit was really special. It was fun and lively and really kept the girls engaged. I have seen a trillion and one 'publisher put together' author visits and after awhile they can get a bit formulaic and same. Perdita and Honour's was authentic and hugely understanding of their key stage four audience, who they received rave reviews from afterwards.' Lucy Ivison, Librarian, Francis Holland Sloane Square.
And we're working on putting as much useful content as we can on this website so that we can offer a mini 'virtual' visit at any time that suits you! So you don't have to trawl through all the pages (quizzes, baking vids...), we've repeated the most useful links below.
Our book trailer We nearly always open a visit by showing our fun book trailer for Waiting for Callback. We explain that the trailer was filmed in a couple of hours in our house - beyond the visit, creating a trailer for this or any favourite book is a great activity in the classroom or at home.
Process. We're asked a lot about how we work together. Here's a very light hearted interview we did with teenage book blogger Amber Kirk-Ford where we talk about how we work. Honor talks in a more focused way about finding characters and writing monologues and duologues on You Tube. And we included a poster on Tips for writing Collaboratively in the pack we prepared to to support our monologue/duologue writing competition (see below). Beyond the visit the way we work could be used as inspiration for classroom work on collaborative writing and presenting.
Dyslexia There is usually a lot of interest in this at school visits. Honor blogged about writing with dyslexia for GirlsHeartBooks 'Love stories but struggle to read?' here and will be posting a video on the same topic very shortly on her You Tube channel. I (Perdita) wrote about my own experience of encouraging a dyslexic child on the 'back page' section of this site. Getting the message across that dyslexia is not necessarily a bar to becoming a writer really matters to us and we are always happy to encourage.
Drama the fact that our books are set in the world of child acting (and that Hon dipped her toe into this world) gives us lots to talk about. Beyond a visit this theme lends itself well to classroom activities, not just acting out scenes or improvising their own but, for example, making up adverts or audition scripts. Maybe the students will be inspired to run their own Monologue Slam. We've included some links to sites like the NYT under the 'Backstage' page.
Excerpt from the Book There's a reading from the first chapter of our first book here. Keep an eye out for more readings going up on You Tube.
We're currently running a monologue/duologue writing competition, details here. We chose the script-writing format in part because it fits with the theme of our books but mostly because we wanted to encourage students experiment playfully with different writing styles.