Yesterday I went to my old high school and had a school visit with about 120 students over the course of two periods. I kept comparing it to my last visit to Hayward High, which was in September 2012, before the book was out and my first ever school visit. I can tell that now I’ve grown a lot – I know what to expect, how to tailor my approach to different age groups, how to try and keep the audience engaged. Before my first visit in 2012 I was terrified. Now, I still get nervous before it starts, then once it gets going the nerves fade away and I’m pretty comfortable.
I showed them the presentation I’ve shown a couple of schools now (Gordonstoun and Keith Academy), which looks at my process of writing – through coming up with the initial idea, outlining, researching, drafting, sending to betas, editing, and eventual publication. It’s not very long, as I know it’s difficult to lecture at people for much longer than fifteen to twenty minutes, tops, before they get antsy. I forgot to do a reading in the first group, but during the second I read the first chapters of both Pantomime & Shadowplay, which are both very short. I then opened it up to the usual Q&A. This is my favourite part because the questions are always different from group to group. Teenagers seem to be more interested in me – moving to Scotland, how I met my husband, when I started writing, whereas at the CSUEB event they were more interested in the mechanics of writing (understandable, as a lot of them were creative writing students). There were a few teens there from the Hayward High creative writing group, and they came up after and asked me for tips on research.
It’s always so strange to be back at my high school. The memories of me being there are overlaid with the present. I was so different in high school – super quiet and shy, basically hiding in a classroom and reading every lunch time, or going on the computers at the library at lunch to chat with Craig before he went to sleep. I always end up ruminating about how much I’ve grown and yet how I’m still in many ways the same person. I do know that if little teenage me saw me present in the library like I did yesterday, I think she’d be very proud of what I’ve done and who I am, and that makes me feel very good.
Today is my last day in California. In about three hours, I’ll be heading back to the airport to begin the long trek home. Life will settle down again and I’ll be back in my usual routine of work and writing. Launch excitement will die down and that’s fine. It’s been such a great trip back, and I’ve spent a lot of time with my family and managed to see lots of friends. Between my various events I’ve signed around 110 copies of Pantomime and 90 copies of Shadowplay. I do miss California, much as I love Scotland. It is hard being an ex-pat, though. I can’t help but feel I’m missing so much by no longer being here.
I’ve gotten a fair few notes through my contact this week of people telling me how much they’ve enjoyed my work and asking about the third book in the Micah Grey series. Thanks so much for them – I do try to respond to every one, and I hope I’ll have more information for you soon.