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Since I had my first book published I have been involved in the Writers in Schools Scheme. This scheme is part funded by The Arts Council to enable writers to visit schools and libraries around the country. The school pays a flat fee of just €100 and the Writers in Schools Scheme pays the balance, including travel expenses and an overnight allowance where necessary.

What I do during the school visit
My main objective is to get two points through to young students. Firstly that everybody has a story to tell, and secondly how the simplest thing can inspire a story idea. In primary schools I show the more senior students how to flesh out the bones of a story from a very simple premise and how to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. I stress the importance of structure including having beginning, middle and end; how to describe characters and how to use dialogue to advance the plot. To illustrate these points I then read a few extracts from one of my novels.

For the very young I show them one of my picture books, and while telling the story, I draw them out subtly to make their own suggestions on what should happen to the various characters. I use one of my picture books also with senior students to demonstrate the various steps of illustration. To explain I show them the many sketches I made for the picture book in question. I deal with how to lay out a story board, before ending with a question and answer session. My message to all students is that if they want to be writers they should begin now by having their own private notebook in which they write something everyday.

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