Helen Watts Author Escape

Better than history

Thank you to Writers & Artists for inviting me to write an article for their Advice section of their website. The article is now live here and argues that historical fiction is not history, it’s better! Do you agree?

Central to the article is the question of how to engage young readers with the genre of historical fiction and this month I have been busy getting out and about into schools to try to do just that. In the week of World Book Day I visited the after-school historical fiction club at Stratford upon Avon School to talk to the children about No Stone Unturned. It was great to spend time with a group of young people who really enjoy history and we had fun discussing how you don’t need to go far to find great stories from the past.

During the last two weeks I have also been taking part in a wonderful project run by the Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival called My Author. The project involves five local schools – four primaries and one secondary – each of which has been linked with one of three authors: John Dougherty, Linda Newbery or Ian Billings. The project was launched with an initial visit from one of the authors, who spoke about their work and the writing process. The schools have then been taking part in a choice of creative workshops – drama with the Playbox Theatre Company, art with Escape Community Arts (pictured left), and I have been running some creative writing sessions. All the workshops explore a theme taken from the original authors’ books: Islands of My Imagination (John Dougherty), Cats and Dogs (Linda Newbery) and Space (Ian Billings). The project will culminate in a return visit, during the last week of March, by the featured author, when the children can celebrate and show off all the work they have done. It’s a great project that I am proud to be part of.

I shall also be taking part in the Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival’s Schools Week, and will be making two appearances at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School and will also be visiting Stratford Primary School.

Photo: Escape Community Arts workshop at Bishopton Primary School (courtesy of Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival)

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