YA Author Penny Joelson visited Bishop’s on Monday 11 February
|On 11th February we were thrilled to welcome local author Penny Joelson to the school. Penny is the author of two young adult mystery/thriller novels, the award-winning I Have No Secrets and Girl in the Window.
Penny gave a fascinating talk to Years 7 and 8 on what inspired her to become an author, how she was locked in her local library as a young girl and where she draws her inspiration for her novels. She also gave a fascinating oversight of how lucky she was to see her first book (I Have No Secrets) being printed and showed the girls how books look in their ‘raw’ state when they are hot off the press.I Have No Secrets is the story of fourteen-year-old Jemma who has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to speak or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. Gemma unearths a terrible secret but is powerless to tell anyone, and a killer is on the loose. In Girl in the Window Kasia is crippled by chronic ME, but witnesses an abduction from her bedroom window and is sure a girl in the opposite window did too, but when she searches for her she’s told there is no girl.
As a teenager Penny worked with disabled children with communication difficulties which helped inspire Gemma’s character and Kasia’s character was drawn from Penny’s own experience of suffering from ME for a decade.The girls thoroughly engaged with her talk and asked some impressive and thought-provoking questions at the end. Their feedback has consistently stated how much they enjoyed the opportunity to not only meet a ‘real’ author, but to learn what inspires them. Penny’s reading of an extract from Girl in the Window really grabbed the audience’s attention and had them on the edge of their seats wondering what would happen next – needless to say Penny’s books have been quickly borrowed from the library following her visit. We can’t wait for her new book, What the Eye Can’t See, which will be released in July and were sorry that she ran out of time, following all the fantastic questions, to read us an exclusive advance extract!Penny also held a creative writing workshop in which students had the opportunity to create their own mystery story, based on books in which you can choose your own ending. This involved the girls deciding on a character (14 year old Caroline), where she lived (a small village) and thinking about two things that she was doing at that moment (looking/reading at old family album/diary and wanting to find out more). The girls then worked in pairs to think of three ideas of what could happen next which resulted in some lively discussion, they continued choosing through various options for the next section of their story before writing a paragraph. The level of work was fantastic, some of the stories gave us goosebumps and we were keen to find out what would happen next. Overall the girls thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.