‘What am I doing here?’- A guest post from Dee Shulman

As we may have mentioned several times over the last few months, we’ve been coordinating LOTS AND LOTS of Author visits in schools across the county. As part of this work, we appointed an Author in Residence, writer and illustrator Dee Shulman, author of over 50 books including the popular ‘Polly Price’s Diary’ series and the ‘Parallon’ Trilogy. Dee is working with us until July and we asked her if she would mind writing a little something for this blog- thankfully, she agreed! Here’s what she sent us- (thank you Dee!):

When I was invited to be Norfolk School Library Service’s first Author in Residence I was absolutely thrilled. It was only when I started to think about what that title actually meant that I began to feel a teeny bit daunted. Would someone who capers around a stage or classroom playing What If games, affecting stupid voices, and drawing pictures on flipcharts really have the gravitas to pull off that title? Unlikely. So – what am I doing here?

 In fact, “What am I doing here?” is a question I ask myself A LOT… especially when the deadline’s looming and the characters have so derailed my carefully constructed plot that I’m having to frantically reconstruct the ending. It’s scary, but there’s nothing like it for getting the adrenaline going.

And I think it’s that excitement; the unpredictable thrill of a story that I want to share with the children. For many of them, learning to read will have been the beginning of a fabulous adventure: they’ve discovered the key to the door of a whole new world and are all set to start exploring. For others, they may have tentatively turned the lock, but for various reasons can’t move through the door to the other side. I see it as my job to try and encourage as many children as I can to throw open the door and make a dash for it.

So I leap around the room, play my story games, put on stupid voices and draw fast and furiously, and before they know it, we are on the adventure together: passionately debating the best methods to deal with the fire-breathing dragons circling the skies above Sainsburys; exploring ways of coping with the monstrous idea of Arabella Diamonte as your mother; guessing whether the discarded bag thrown across the bench contains the secret code to the universe or simply Jake’s packed lunch. Together we explore the thrill of empathy and the power of narrative.

There may not be a lot of gravitas in the room, but there’s enough imagination floating around to convince me that maybe gravitas isn’t everything!

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