Last week Vashti Hardy sent Carden students her Mission Pack – it’s super-detailed and full of amazing resources and activities. Here’s her opening greeting:
How are you all? I’m so excited that you have adopted me as your author! I’m also very happy to hear that you have joined the crew and are reading Brightstorm.
I hope you are all enjoying the adventure so far.I have a mission for you all to take part in over the coming weeks…
Your Adopt an Author Mission will be to create a new place for the Brightstorms and the crew to explore and begin creating your own adventure book! Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm live in a place called the Great Wide and there are lots of places still to explore and discover.
Your imagination is your superpower. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Best wishes – invent the incredible and dream BIG!
The first part of the mission:
Decide on a quest and research possible dangers that your characters could get into.
The students’ responses were amazing – check out some examples with Vashti’s comments!
And here’s Vashti’s message to the class about Part 1 of the mission:
I was so excited to see what you all got up to on your first mission! You’ve all had some amazing ideas which will make for some hugely thrilling adventure quests: dragons, natural hazards, fearsome baddies… you’ve got all the right ingredients! There are some great ‘ticking bombs’ in the ideas too – this is when the characters must complete the task before disaster strikes or before someone else gets their first. You may like to think about if you could include that in your story adventure if you haven’t.
This is such a brilliant start to creating your story worlds. Well done all of you! You’ve all got fabulous imaginations.
I can’t wait to see what you do next. Onwards to Mission 2!
We can’t wait to see what Mission 2 brings either! Until next time…
Sixth form students at BHASVIC sent their first questions to Bethan Roberts this week! Students asked about the character relationships and wider social issues in the book, and Bethan took the time to answer them individually. The questions were really thoughtful and the answers offered a lot of insight. Check them out!
I really enjoyed My Policeman and I got through it really quickly. I wanted to ask a few question about the story. Why does Marion bring Patrick to live with her and Tom and why won’t Tom speak to him? Also I was wondering if you’re supposed to sympathise with Tom at the end because he comes across so cold and emotionless but then I want to feel bad for him as well? Also when Patrick goes to prison how does that come about, is it actually Marion’s fault because she sent that letter or was it just coincidence?
Many thanks for your questions and comments about My Policeman. I’m so glad you enjoyed the novel.
I’ll tackle the question of why Marion brings Patrick to live with her first. I suppose my immediate response is to ask you the same question in return (sorry!) — why do you think she does this? And why do you think Tom won’t speak to Patrick? I’m interested because I think everyone will have a different response to a story, and I’m always fascinated to hear what readers take from a book.
In terms of my own intentions, I guess I wanted to suggest that Marion brings Patrick into her house for a few reasons, some of which she’s probably not even aware of (I don’t think any of us know precisely what our own motivations are at all times). One is to punish him. She’s harboured this grudge for many years and there’s a part of her that is tempted to punish Patrick even more. But another is to try to atone for her sins. She knows she’s done a very bad thing, and she wants to put things right. Another reason for bringing Patrick into her home might be her desire to push her relationship with Tom towards some sort of change or conclusion — their marriage has been stalled and stale for years, and I think she’s longing for things to move on in some way.
I think Tom doesn’t speak to Patrick because he’s afraid. He’s afraid of his love for him, primarily, but he’s also afraid of his own guilt — he was a free man, after all, while Patrick served his time in prison. He’s also angry with Patrick for causing (as he sees it) all these complications in his life! I’m glad that you felt bad for Tom. I feel bad for him, too. I think he’s trying his best. It’s just that — like so many of us — he falls short.
As for the letter… Well, I wanted to suggest that Marion’s letter did indeed have an effect, but that she is not entirely responsible for Patrick’s prison sentence. I imagined that Houghton may have tipped off the police about Patrick, having received Marion’s letter, but that they may have been investigating the boy from the Argyle anyway.
I found My Policeman to be a really engaging novel. I was especially interested by how you took the modern, open city of Brighton, which is so accepting to gay relationships nowadays, and took it back into the 50s, which was contrastingly such an oppressive time for people of the LGBT+ community. It allowed me to truly realise how far we’ve come as a society, but also how much further we have to go, because despite this city being so accepting, not everyone is, and that can especially be said on a national level. Also, I have some questions about writing in general. Since when have you wanted to be an author? And what inspires your writing? Do you base characters around people you have known? Or events around things that have happened to you or others?
Thanks so much for your comments about My Policeman. I’m so glad that the book made you think about changing attitudes of the majority towards the LGBT+ community in Brighton and beyond.
To answer your questions in order:
I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. But I’m from a working class family and I grew up on a (very nice) council estate, so it wasn’t the sort of thing you admitted to. For a while I pretended I wanted to be an air hostess, because that was what other girls said they wanted to be. And then, later, I thought I might be a teacher or a librarian, because those two professions seemed less pretentious. I went to university to study English and afterwards I worked in TV production for a bit. Eventually, when I was in my late 20s, I admitted that I really wanted to be a writer, and I took an MA Creative Writing at Chichester University. The course gave me the confidence to take my work seriously.
I think anything at all can inspire writing. It’s really just a case of allowing yourself to be open to ideas and to language, and of getting in the habit of writing things down. I do tend to like starting with real lives, real events — often not things that have happened to me but things that chime with me emotionally. My Policeman started with the story of the novelist E.M. Forster, who for years had a lover who was a married policeman (see above). I took that as a starting point and I made my own story from it. A lot of details in the novel came from a wonderful book called Daring Hearts, which is a collection of memories of the lesbian and gay community in Brighton during the 1950s and 60s. I’d recommend looking it up.
Characters are most often a mash up of people I’ve known or have encountered, people I’ve read about, other fictional characters, and — of course — myself. I find writing about these people so much fun, because it allows me to put on masks, to take on new voices, like an actor. They’re all me, of course, but they’re also not me.
Thank you so much Bethan and BHASVIC – more from you next week!
We are absolutely thrilled to announce our participants for Adopt An Author 2020. Four Brighton schools are adopting a local author each for 10 weeks of correspondence.
A warm welcome to all of our authors and schools – drum roll please…
Year 12s at BHASVIC are reading Bethan Roberts’ My Policeman, a powerful story of love and prejudice in 1950s Brighton.
Vashti Hardy is sharing her epic fantasy adventure Brightstormwith Carden Primary School. It’s the first in an exciting book series featuring sky-ships, polar expeditions and much more…
Students at Peter Gladwin Primary Schoolare working with Adopt An Author veteran Ross Montgomery – we love Ross so much we had to have him back! His Perijee and Meis a heart-warming alien adventure which also touches on some more serious topics.
Finally, we welcome Stewart Foster and his moving story Check Mates, which he will be sharing with Patcham Junior School. Check Mates is a story of chess and family relationships – with an intriguing twist.
Over the next 10 weeks pupils will be corresponding with their paired writers. Stay tuned for weekly updates – the students always surprise us with their intriguing and insightful ideas and we can’t wait to see what they come up with this time!