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Pupils Quiz Author Over Skype

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Pupils from both Divisions chatted with Alex Bell during a Skype call organised by Bolton School’s Library staff. Two groups convened in the Arts Centre where Alex appeared on-screen to answer lots of questions about her books, her writing process and being an author.

The event was particularly exciting for boys and girls in the Year 7 and 8 Book Clubs who are involved in the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award (BCFA), as Alex’s book ‘The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club’ was one of the six novels shortlisted in 2019. After hearing about Alex’s journey to become an author, pupils asked about her favourite authors when she was growing up (J K Rowling, Enid Blyton and Terry Pratchett) and her favourite mythological creature (the unicorn, though now she enjoys making up new ones). The questions also revealed that Alex keeps a notebook where she jots down ideas, which is where the title for ‘The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club’ came from, but does all her writing on a computer due to “unreadable” handwriting. She talked about why she made Shay a wolf-whisperer and her inspiration for her characters, as well as revealing which of them is most like Alex herself.

Alex also writes young adult horror stories and in the second session discussed this genre with Year 11, focusing on her book ‘Frozen Charlotte’ and its prequel ‘Charlotte Says’. She began with her influences and inspirations, which include Gothic horror and romance, and the fact that she chooses particular tropes to use in her books because those are her favourites. When asked why she hasn’t yet written about ‘creepy clowns’ she explained that it’s very difficult to get away from Stephen King’s ‘It’ and so she would only do so if she thought she could do something different with it. Alex talked about the real-world inspiration for the small but scary dolls that feature in ‘Frozen Charlotte’: she discovered Frozen Charlotte dolls when she was first researching for the book and thought they were an interesting and original twist on a traditional horror trope. She also talked about the writing process and the difficulties and benefits of writing a prequel.

Pupils in both sessions were delighted to pose their questions to Alex to find out more about her books and what it’s like to be an author.

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