Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Teenage Kicks report

Five Leaves/Derbyshire Libraries "Teenage Kicks" half day event on the 16th had a near full house of young adults and adults. My organising colleague Ali Betteridge said you need to have nerves of steel in this game as only a few days beforehand we were way below the number we need to run anything let alone a half day event with lots of writers. She kept her nerve while mine was failing. Good call, Ali. We had programmed a great line up of speakers, some being Five Leaves regulars, some occasional, some "friends of" while other sessions were run by teenage readers and, with Pippa from Five Leaves Towers, on the future of the book. Interestingly, the author Pauline Chandler reported that all the teenagers bar one preferred to read in a book format than in any electronic format.
The opening remarks were from Bali Rai. Bali's first book was written when he was nine, Bali and the Giant Peach, at which point he discovered there was more to being a writer than simply changing the name of the main character in a book to your own but otherwise copying it out word for word.
Given that Bali is a writer of an Asian background, it was interesting that his role model was Sue Townsend who also lives in Leicester. It is also thanks to his interest in her as a writer than he is currently doing some work with the RNIB. He told his audience that what everyone has in common is an imagination and the need to tell stories "because we all love gossip and we all tell lies.
Bali became a full time writer in 2001 and is in great demand in schools. He said "I wanted to write about people like me - brown kids, white kids, whatever, working class kids that people didn't used to write about.". He was damning of library cutbacks, reminding us that we need stories, stories about everyday life. "Remove stories about everyday life and you remove diversity [of experience]."
He also set the scene for the day by talking about the importance of reading for pleasure "which will always make you more intelligent. Just like 2 plus 2 will always be four."
From then, until the closing remarks from Paula Rawsthorne the day rushed by. Thanks to all who took part, as audience, organisers and speakers.

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