As that age-old philosopher, Winnie-the-Pooh once said, ‘You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.’

And so it is with authors. We cannot sit at our desks all the time and just expect our books to find their way out into the world, we have to get out there and meet our readers and talk to them about our books; encourage them to read more books and hopefully to buy more too.

Selling books is, of course, important to me, but it is also essential for me to connect with my readers: I need to find out what makes them tick, how they think, what their likes and dislikes are. I love chatting to the children and listening to their ideas. Sometimes they ask extremely thought-provoking questions too, so I often come away from meeting readers thinking that I have got at least as much out of it as they have – if not, more.

So, for a large chunk of this term, I have been away from ‘my corner of the forest’, visiting schools in Wales, Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Manchester and Lancashire, giving talks and running workshops. I have talked at festivals and done signings in bookshops and held question and answer sessions with children and their parents. It has been exhausting and has meant that I have not had as much time as I would have liked to sit at my desk and write. But it has also been great fun.

Image 6 Imagehold it up high Anna signing books

One of my favourite questions was asked by an eight-year-old boy: ‘How do you get your imagination out on to the page?’

I don’t think I had ever stopped to consider how this happens. I had to have a long, hard, think – of the sort Winnie-the-Pooh would be proud of. In the end, I gave a rather lame response along the lines of, ‘I have to write it down as best I can, and then I have to go over it and edit it and rewrite it until it is the closest I can make it to what is in my head.’ Not a very satisfactory answer, I know. So I am still pondering how best to answer such a deep and interesting question!

My first book

As well as enjoying questions such as this, I get to see children’s stories and illustrations which they produce in the workshops I run. I am constantly amazed my the level of creativity amongst even the smallest children. Sometimes the ideas are crazy and fun, sometimes the language is original and poetic. Young children let their imagination run riot and are not afraid to experiment with new ideas, which is exciting to see.

I was also lucky enough to meet two wonderful young film makers this term: Jake Hawes from Crickhowell in Wales and Marti Guiver from Yeovil in Somerset. Both young men made short films of me doing my talks and also interviewed me. Here is a clip from Jake’s film:

Marti is still editing his film, so I hope to post that very soon. Jake is still at school, but has his own YouTube channel and makes films for Crickhowell TV. He wants to be a documentary maker when he leaves school. Marti is at college in Yeovil and also wants to be a film maker when he graduates. Both were very inspiring young people whom I felt privileged to meet and spend time with.

So, yes, sometimes you do have to leave your corner of the forest, even if you have pages and pages of stuff to write and stacks of other jobs to do and you don’t like travelling and you miss your family. It’s all still there when I come back though. Along with lovely memories of the people I’ve met and the things they have said to me and shared with me along the way.

In any case, as Winnie-the-Pooh’s author, A A Milne once said, ‘No sensible author wants anything but praise’. And how are you going to get that if you never meet the people who read your books?

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