Posted on May 31, 2011 - by MG
So we come to the final post of the Dark Parallel Reverse Diaries wherein by a time paradox I revisit the early days of the launch of the fourth Joshua book and jump back to weeks before all the last few entries. In fact in chronological order this post fits between Author Visits 2011. C’mon in, sit a spell and Return to Eggli Mountain.
Weeks before the launch of Dark Parallel, I’d managed to get my hands on a bunch of ARCs (Advance Review Copies) as well as a very small number of finished copies. With these in my suitcase, I set off across the land, well across Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Kids were pretty excited to have a chance to win one of these rare ARCs and early copies of the fourth book. Winners won their copies by winning a badge-guessing contest about authors, or a quiz about Joshua Files, or by designing an alternative cover of on of the Booked-Up listed titles.
I showed the new trailer for Dark Parallel to audiences of hundreds, and was relieved to see that the young actor playing Josh still looks good when his face is blown up to cinema-screen size! Kids were also treated to some of the behind-the-scenes footage from the brief filming session.
After a full week of visits, I was off to Switzerland for the two-day visit to College Du Leman, Geneva. (This is where the weekend of relaxing at the Eggli Mountain blog post fits in…)
Visiting CDL was a hugely fun experience, although a bit daunting – five sessions each with around 200 students. And one session en francais! I’d had massive help from the French publishers of Joshua, who had translated a transcript of the talk I’d prepared. But as I looked over the notes in the hotel the night before, I realised that I hadn’t spoken French for any length of time for 25 years. Even reading it aloud – was I going to be comprehensible? Well I won’t lie – I practiced a bit, and crossed my fingers that the kids would be able to understand my lazy English accent.
It was fascinating to observe the differences between schools in England, the English-language side of CDL and the French-speaking side. In England, especially in state schools, students were expected to be quiet whilst waiting to hear the talk, and were occasionally reminded. Afterwards they were allowed to show their excitement, queuing for autographs and photos.
In the English-speaking strand of CDL the corridors looked like US high-schools with casual hanging around lockers. Once in the hall, the students chatted quietly but weren’t expected to be silent while waiting. The French-speaking strand of CDL, a classical Lycee type education, were used to much stricter teaching conditions, absolute silence in class, for example. But for a more entertaining session like an author visit, these same kids kicked back and relaxed, and the teachers were fine with that.
In fact the French-speaking grades 5&6 were the most energetic and excited group I had ever visited! They clapped along with the music in the videos, they whooped and cheered, they clamoured to ask questions at the end.
Three different styles of behaviour management, but all worked out pretty well with the kids seeming happy and relaxed. It was a pleasure to meet everyone and I’m delighted that quite a few young people added me on Facebook in the following days and weeks.
Thanks so much to all the wonderful school librarians and teachers who invited me into school, as well as to Krysia Rodak and all the brilliant Parent Faculty Association of College Du Leman for such a wonderful visit to Geneva!