As it's world book week I'm off on my travels again visiting schools and talking to students. Which I love doing by the way. (Let's face it...it's the only time I'm let out of my padded cell).
Having heard of a few moans and groans on the social ether I thought I might compile a list of do's/don'ts for authors visiting schools. Not so much a code of conduct....more a list of guidelines.
DO try and arrive not reeking of Redbull and - if you smoke...I used to - of fags. I know the Redbull bit is difficult. May I suggest as an alternative and less odoursome author-fuel a double-shot espresso, or two.
DO realise that no matter how much you bounce around on stage....you are SIMPLY not going to exceed the calories of that school lunch/plate of sandwiches you'll get offered at break time.
DONT try and be cool with the kids. Terms like 'fo-shizzle', 'awesomeballs', 'my brah', 'totes sick'...may work as dialogue on the page of your teen novel, but coming out of the mouth of scruffy, bearded, old fart (like me), well....it's kind of awkward for everyone. If you slip up, the moment will pass, but only after about a dozen seconds of ghastly silence as 300-400 kids gaze uncomfortably down at their feet
DONT leap off the stage during your reading (for drammatic emphasis) unless there's a crash mat, or you've height-tested the stage drop before the kids start filing in.
DO assume that your trailer/video WILL stutter and pause on the ancient WINDOWS 7 laptop provided for your powerpoint presentation. Far smarter to bring your own lappy...and if it's a MAC, an adaptor to fit to their svga projector cable.
DO not include any powerpoint presentations on the memory stick that you hand to the tech guy that you don't wish to accidentally present to the students. (Subjects such as postmortem protocols, diseases that liquify flesh and how to code using LUA languages...tend to be innapropriate for year 6s,7s,8s)
DONT collapse across the bean bags in the library after the presentation and ask if it's okay to grab a quick 'power nap'. (Keep in mind teachers have to do what we do for 8 hours straight, five days a week...and boy do they wish THEY could just flop down like that)
DO be aware that radio mics have a range that can sometimes extend to the gents toilet. Groans of satisfaction after a long drive witha full bladder, do tend to carry.