How much is real?

The waist-high brick fence where the graffiti appeared.

During the week I spoke to some students who had been studying Graffiti on the Fence this Term. It is a relatively rare thing for me to speak to a group in which everyone has read and become familiar with one of my books. The opportunity to discuss characters, settings, ideas and background material relating specifically to that story is fun for me, as well as enlightening for the students.

During the one hour session the students asked me not only where the ideas came from, but how much of the story was real and how much imagined? Other questions included ‘Which characters are based on real people and why did you choose them’? ‘Why did you choose a real estate agent to be one of the bad guys?’ was another question. It is interesting for me to analyse these things for myself, whilst taking note of what the students want to know about.

We also talked about how the poem, Horatio, by Lord Macaulay (1800-1859) worked. Why did I choose those particular lines for Lallie to quote and how did the poem, written so long ago work for Year 5s today? These are things that are either not mentioned, or touched on very briefly during my general author-talks, but I think they provide very valuable insights for students. For me it is fascinating to hear what the students are thinking, and to see the beautiful artwork and writing that they produced in response to my book.

I look forward to doing more of these sessions.


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