Teaching resources and materials for all my books can be found in the ‘Resources’ section of this website.
Author Visits and Events
Great News: It’s so wonderful to be out and about again. Please contact me if you are interested an in-person visit – or in virtual visits via Google Meet/Teams/Skype or Zoom, bespoke video workshops on creative writing or anything else related to my books. I’d be delighted to hear from you!
As a qualified English and Drama teacher, I have a lot of experience with young people and am keen to get them up on their feet! I frequently work in both primary and secondary schools, but am equally at ease with site-specific events in a range of other venues.
Sample Workshops and Prices:
- VIKINGS! I will begin with an interactive Viking Quiz and a Viking Drama challenge before showing a presentation with images about the research and background behind my novel The Chessmen Thief, an origin story for the famous Lewis Chessmen. I will give a couple of readings from the book and the session will finish with a Q&A where pupils can ask me anything about writing books and being an author. I will leave them with some Viking-themed activities they can do at home or in school, like writing in runes, inventing their own Viking name or creating Viking shadow puppets to perform their own saga. (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
- JACOBITES! I begin with an interactive Drama challenge, followed by readings from my Jacobite novel The Reluctant Rebel about a disillusioned stable boy who gets caught up in the flight of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden. I will give a presentation about the real places and events in the novel, as well as a Q&A. Finally, I can set a creative writing challenge inspired by the event. Costumes and battle-props will abound! (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
- VICTORIANS! Victorian-themed interactive quiz, a presentation with images about Victorian Scotland, circuses, puppetry, dancing bears and the places and real events which inspired my Victorian boy-on-the-run mystery Punch. There will be readings from the book and a Q&A where pupils can ask anything about creating Victorian stories and being an author in general. I will conclude by demonstrating some Victorian puppetry, and in-person visits will include a puppetry challenge and live improvisation with pupils. (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
- WILDERNESS WARS! I will begin by reading a chapter from my eco-thriller Wilderness Wars before improvising the same seagull attack scene in slow motion with pupils, using seagull puppets. A presentation with images about the inspiration behind the book and a further reading will complete the session before finishing with Q&A and a brief creative writing exercise based on the tag-line ‘What if nature fights back?’ (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
- BURNS/SMUGGLING! Robert Burns may have been a poet, but in his day job he was an Exciseman – a smuggler-catcher. I’ll show a presentation with images about the real life moment where the poet had to board a stranded smuggling ship ‘with pistol and sword’, while being shot at with cannon, crossing a beach of quicksand – you couldn’t make it up! My smuggling novella Black Water is about this incident. The session will also include readings, Q&A and (for in-person events) some Drama in an utterly addictive and fun smuggling game! (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
- HIGHLAND CLEARANCES! Learn first-hand about longhouses and their hearth chains, and tie your own fir sprig into the chain for good luck. I’ll show a presentation with images about the Durness Riots, the real events which inspired my Highland Clearances novel Fir for Luck before some Clearances inspired freeze frame Drama which can easily be turned into a comic, readings, Q&A and (for in-person visits) the ‘Writ Game’ – an addictive and fun Clearances-inspired wide game. I will leave pupils with a recipe for beremeal scones, the staple diet of the people at the time. (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
- WARS OF INDEPENDENCE/MIDDLE AGES! We begin with an interactive knight-themed Drama game and a bit of traditional story telling of the legend of King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone. We then turn our attention to real places and events: a presentation with images about Caerlaverock Castle and how a visit there inspired The Siege of Caerlaverock, my medieval novel based on a famous siege in the year 1300. Readings, Q&A and (for in-person visits) a catapult battle and craft instructions to make a crossbow. (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
- VICTORIANS/STEM! An interactive jumping quiz with Victorian trivia opens this session, followed by an interactive demonstration of the riveting process used on the Victorian Forth Bridge. Readings and a PowerPoint presentation about the research, inspiration and background to Rivet Boy, based on real events and people and a Q&A complete the event. (Virtual: 1 hour £80/In-person: £175)
In addition to the above, I love creating bespoke events for schools, libraries and festivals:
- Creative writing activities for primary or secondary schools
- Presentations about the publication process, being an author, research and about the story and inspiration behind each book
- Drama workshops (related to Highland Clearances, Eco, Victorians, Burns & smuggling)
- Puppetry/storytelling workshops including shadow puppetry
- Special occasions such as World Book Day/Shakespeare’s birthday/Burns Day etc
In-person visits: HOW MUCH?
The Society of Authors recommends that members charge £175 per session (1-2 hours). I know that this can be out of reach for many schools, so I am happy to do a longer visit for that amount or negotiate a price you can afford. Just get in touch (details in the contact section).
One of the best ways to fund author visits is by applying to the Scottish Book Trust for Live Literature funding. A lot of my work is now funded in this way, and they pay expenses too! It is not an onerous application, but deadlines are usually a bit in advance, so I’ll happily liaise directly if your timeline is tighter.
And for teachers who may be looking for book-themed activities, here’s a wee example: A Book Blind Date