When I first began Me and Mr J, I wrote for the enjoyment of it, not really imagining that one day my story of Lara, a teenager from Huddersfield, would be in bookshops and libraries across the world. So to be chosen as part of Read Regional was particularly special because this is a book that takes its northern roots seriously and I loved taking it into schools where the setting would resonate with the readers.
During the campaign I travelled by train across northern England, experiencing beautiful coastline and landscapes I’d never visited before and meeting many fantastic, committed, enthusiastic librarians from both the school and public library services. It was really heart-warming to see that despite the brutal funding cuts, libraries continue to thrive thanks to the dedication of the staff. We all understand that reading is an enjoyable hobby that also happens to have dramatic educational benefits but books are expensive to buy, especially for teenagers who tend not to have a huge disposable income and so it was great to meet young people who treasured their local library.
For my events, I devised a series of creative writing workshops for Year 10 and 11 students and teachers and I thoroughly enjoyed delivering them. Meeting the Cuckoo Young Writers group was another highlight: they’re such a talented bunch and I know their work will be on my bookshelves in the future.
Lots of imagination, lots of laughs and lots of enthusiastic, engaged students…that is what I’m taking away from being part of Read Regional and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to participate.