Author Visits

An inspirational speaker

– Librarian, Highfield School, Hampshire

The students have talked about your visit ever since

– Librarian, Mountbatten School, Romsey

The best author visit we have ever had

– Librarian, Headington Prep School, Oxford

Author visits to primary and secondary schools are always worthwhile. They inspire children to read for pleasure and even to write for pleasure. I am currently taking bookings for author visits in 2022. To book me for an event or to find out more information, please email Yvonne Lang

In addition to the sessions described below, I regularly conduct Able Writers Days for gifted and talented pupils.

I am DBS cleared, with an enhanced disclosure certificate.

A full day school visit consists of four one-hour sessions, but in addition to this I am happy to give a twenty-minute contribution to a full school assembly at the start of the day. For primary assemblies I do ‘Five ingredients of a good story’ (a picture stack with actions) and in secondary assemblies I introduce my book HACKING TIMBUKTU, a parkour adventure story.

Key Stage 1 – African storybooks

Don't Spill the Milk
This is a fully interactive session for 15 to 35 children, based on my picture book DON’T SPILL THE MILK (illus. Christopher Corr). Lesson plan as follows:

  • a Timbuktu turban-tying task
  • learn some greetings in Fulfulde
  • a calabash-balancing task
  • read the text of DON’T SPILL THE MILK, with breaks to anticipate what comes next
  • children point out rhythm and rhyme
  • children imagine a sequel called DON’T DROP THE MANGO and discuss obstacles the character could face
  • Each child designs their own spread for the sequel
  • The children’s work can be stapled together to create the class’s own African picture book

Key Stage 2 Talks

These interactive talks contain plenty of visuals as well as questions for children to think about.

Talk 1: Experience and Research

Stephen Davies Sophie books

  • I talk about how my own experiences in West Africa inspired me to write my first book SOPHIE AND THE ALBINO CAMEL
  • I explain how I approached the writing of my book SURVIVOR TITANIC, highlighting the importance of primary as opposed to secondary sources
  • Children are encouraged to come up with stories from their own life experiences and their own study of history

Talk 2: Titanic

Survivor: TitanicThis session encourages students to put themselves into the shoes of an author who has been commissioned to write an adventure story set on the Titanic. It encourages them to think about:

  • how to approach research
  • how to create a great character to bring the story to life
  • how to create tension and suspense

This talk contains lots of amazing details and anecdotes about the Titanic disaster, and I find it engages even the most reluctant readers.

Key Stage 2 Workshop (15 to 35 students)

Workshop: Creating Characters That Feel Real

This session emphasizes the importance of creating three dimensional characters for our stories. We use images of children from around the world (from the book WHERE CHILDREN SLEEP) as a launchpad for creating compelling characters. Having had the skill modelled for them, children work in pairs to develop their own character and suggest possible story ideas.

Key Stage 3 Talks

Talk 1: How to Write Historical Fiction

Based on my own experience of writing historical fiction (TITANIC and BLOOD & INK), this presentation covers three major topics:

  • Research (using primary sources)
  • How to create the right character to bring a historical event to life
  • How to write a gripping action scene

Talk 2: The Seven Basic Plots

This lecture is based on Christopher Booker’s wonderful book THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS. What does Jaws have in common with Beowulf? What does the Epic of Gilgamesh have in common with Star Wars? I introduce the basic plots in an hour long lecture, and then lead a workshop to experiment with them. Fantastic practice for analyzing and building stories.

Key Stage 3 Workshops (15 to 35 students)

Workshop 1: How to Write a Thriller

This session leads students through the process of writing a thriller, from initial concept to character and plotting. We discuss and give examples of ‘high concept’ thrillers and practise coming up with ideas of our own. I demonstrate that a good thriller is driven by character, not by plot, and we practise creating characters that will bring our thriller concepts to life. Finally we give our main character setbacks: ‘Chase your hero up a tree and then throw stones at him!’

Workshop 2: How to Write a Chase Scene

The session begins with a three minute montage of chase scenes from four films: The Matrix, District 13, Walking with Beasts and the iguana vs racing snake scene from Planet Earth 2. This stimulates general discussion of chase scenes in fiction: Why do we enjoy them and how do storytellers maximize the excitement of these scenes? We discuss techniques such as close POV, show-don’t-tell and maintaining pace. Students work in groups to create a chase scenario for the beginning of a thriller, and then do ten minutes of speed writing, employing the techniques we discussed.

Workshop 3: How to Write a Travel Feature

A few years ago I was named Travel Writer of the Year by the magazine Africa Geographic. Since then I have continued to publish travel features in many magazines and newspapers. Travel writing was my first love, and I enjoy talking with students about how to squeeze the juice out of a place or memory. I often lead this workshop for Year 8s as an introduction to their Travel Writing unit. I also find it works well in international schools.

Testimonials for Stephen Davies’s visits

Thank you for coming to visit us on Friday. The children had a great time and we had so much positive feedback. A few children have been to see me today to tell me that they have gone out over the weekend and got themselves a writing journal, which is absolutely brilliant.

Sam Benford, Warren Park Primary School, Havant

Stephen visited our school on Monday of our Book Week. He had communicated very clearly in advance about his workshops and put together a great programme based on our daily timetable and the numbers in each year group in school. He was happy to sign books at lunchtime for part time students, and at the end of the day – and ended up staying an hour longer than expected! Stephen had a lovely manner with the students, making them feel at ease to offer ideas. He led a whole school assembly as a powerful start to the day, and his key stage two workshops on building a character were particularly inspiring. Many teachers went on to use this in the classroom during the week with excellent results, and several reluctant writers went on to create their own stories. This was the best author visit we have ever had – thank you Stephen!

Julie Sale, librarian, Headington Prep School, Oxford

We had a great author visit as part of our Book Week. Every class fed back to me and thought you were inspirational. The children are eager to read your books in our library. We are due to have two settees and more bean bags delivered tomorrow.

Alison Ainsworth, Deputy Head, Cinnamon Brow Primary School, Warrington

“Stephen is a natural. He exudes warmth and a genuine interest in children. His curiosity for this part of the world was obvious, as he shared the real life experiences behind his stories. Stephen tailored his presentations and workshops depending on the grade level in way that hooked the students (and teachers). Our students were engaged and motivated during his workshops and some continued with the their stories back in class. I have started a writers workshop with my Grade 6’s and students are using many of the techniques and strategies they learned from Stephen. I highly recommend him as a visiting author to schools and would love for him to return.”

Andrea Morris, KAUST school, Saudi Arabia

Children's author visits Hampshire Book Award Students

I have been getting feedback from the students, and they really enjoyed your visit. One of them told me (unbidden) that he had learnt about the importance of creating a good character and thought it would greatly increase his fiction writing skills!

Margaret Taylor, Librarian, Henry Cort Community College, Fareham

Author visits to secondary schools - Years 7 and 8

Stephen came to talk to Year 4 about his life in Burkina Faso, which is the source of inspiration for his books. Year 4 were enthralled, learning (amongst other things) how to wind a turban and how to meet and greet in the local language. An inspirational speaker, Stephen held all sixty children in the palm of his hand – not to mention the staff as well.

Cluny Paget, Librarian, Highfield School, Hampshire

Author visit book signing

Hi Steve. Thanks for all your hard work on Monday – We were all hugely impressed by your ability to engage the students. I have had nothing but really positive feedback. The students have talked about your visit ever since.

Sue Moody, Librarian, Mountbatten School, Romsey

Year 7 author visit

Your enthusiasm and encouragement for the students was amazing. They are all busy creating adventure stories and are inspired to read more because of you.

Billie-Jean Clark, English teacher, Buttershaw College, Bradford

KS3 author visits

Stephen Davies came to our class to talk to us and we were blown away. This was the first time we actually thought of writing as a fun thing to do. He gave us some background info on some of his books. Imagine hearing how a character in a book you read was made! He made writing seem natural and “cool”. I think many of us are thinking about writing as a hobby now. I certainly am.

Mahima Kumar, Year 10 student, International School of Dakar

International School author visits

We had the wonderful privilege of having an author visit from Stephen Davies last month. Mr Davies knows what he’s writing about as he lives in our same setting. I would thoroughly recommend his books and if anyone would have the chance to have him visit their school, he made a huge impact in just a short time! Thank you Steve!

Cathy Bliss, librarian at Sahel Academy, an International School in Niamey, Niger.

Stephen has a quiet, calm and yet very engaging manner. He shared fascinating details of his experiences as a writer to excite the students and walked them through some practical tips to get their ideas down on paper quickly. The sessions were interactive, varied and accessible by students of all levels of interest and ability. A distinct highlight was the travel writing session, based on Stephen’s experience of a fishing festival in Mali. Students were thrilled with the results and very motivated to see their words and ideas already forming, in less than an hour. I can’t wait to go back to the pieces they started and continue developing them. Students felt that Stephen gave them some of the keys to see their own writing in print one day.”

Hannah Greenfield, the KAUST school, Saudi Arabia

I am currently taking bookings for author visits in 2022. To make a booking or to find out more information, please email Yvonne Lang