Thursday, February 10, 2011

Viking Myths, Pirate Facts, and the Offside Rule for Girls - a day with Julia Golding

The annual Abingdon School's joint author event is a wonderful tradition amongst the town's schools, and it's a real privilege to be invited along to do the bookselling. Last year we spent an awe-inspiring day in the company of Marcus Sedgwick, and this year we spent the day in the company of Julia Golding - who has also recently started writing under the name of Joss Stirling (more about that in a mo).

Julia is an author we have been desperate to meet for ages. When we opened the bookshop in 2006, she had only just published her first book (The Diamond of Drury Lane which was in our opening stock), and as the years have gone by, we've become increasingly in awe of her, particularly the Companions Quartet and Darcie Lock books). Readers - particularly girls - rave about her, and though I'm bound to say many of her books do appeal to boys, it's great to see strong writing that most definitely appeal to girls.
Julia did three sessions throughout the day - two sessions were aimed at year eights and above, and one session was for a slightly younger age range.

Children's authors have to increasingly be part performer, ringmaster and even stand-up comedian, and Julia pulled this off brilliantly by talking about her books, and interspersing readings with insights into the writing process. She also got the kids up on stage to take part in a various games, pirate dressing up and even a Viking quiz...
...where we learned that Vikings didn't have horned helmets (a Victorian myth apparently, copied by Hollywood) and the Viking king "Harald Bluetooth" - who united parts of Sweden, Denmark and Norway - gave his name to Ericsson's ubiquitous, cable-free 'unification' of PCs and mobile devices. How cool is that? (even better: the Bluetooth icon is actually the Nordic runes for his initials, H and B. Now that's a pub quiz-winning question if I've ever heard one...).
So, here's the obligatory picture of bookseller and author, but...notice the signed copy I'm proudly holding. This is Julia Golding writing as Joss Stirling for teenage readers. What do we think of the book in the shop? I'll leave the last word to Julia (that's Mostly Books' Julia, not the author!) who loved this book:
"Sky, forced to move to America from England with her adoptive parents, thinks that she'll never find her soul mate, her other half. But when she meets Zed, the local bad boy of Wrickenridge, that's exactly what happens. On one level, this is a beautifully-written book for teens about love and friendship which touches on the potency that comes with adolescence. But it's also a book with plenty of action and thrills, and some very sinister gangsters who take a special interest in Sky, and her 'gift'..."
There's a neat running joke in the book about 'soccer' and a nice comment about the off-side rule for girls which has taken on a slightly more contemporary resonance since the book was originally published...

It was a great event, and it's given us a great excuse to have a nice big display of Julia's books in the shop...

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