Category Archives: Events

Neal Zetter poetry workshops for Children & Young People

The 2017 SRC theme is Animal Agents so I have put together a special Animal Rap & Rhyme session which I am hoping you’ll be keen to book me for in summer.

Linking to the theme I am offering:

  • an interactive funny animal poems performance
  • fun with words including my animal alliteration game
  • the chance for children to create their own animal tongue twister poems
  • the opportunity for children to meet a real live author, poet, entertainer and buy signed copies of my books if they wish containing many animal poems (I have two new books out in 2017)

  • it’s for 6-12 yrs olds – but nobody is turned away, parents/carers/siblings welcome
  • Cost = £110 + Oyster
  • I am currently free all summer up to and including 18 August
    Please let me know if you’d be interested even though it may be early days

    Neal Zetter
    020 8529 6608

    Teen Take-Over of Local Libraries

    A Place Free of Judgement by Blast Theory and Tony White

    On 29 October 2016, over the course of 9 hours, teenagers in Worcester, Telford and Cannock will be taking control of their local libraries, and performing live to a worldwide audience. Through a unique project supported by Arts Connect and ASCEL West Midlands, the group have been working with award-winning artists Blast Theory and author Tony White to re-imagine libraries, storytelling and their place in the world. This work will come to life in an ambitious and fun 9-hour takeover of the three libraries, starting in Telford (3pm – 6pm), then Cannock (6pm – 9pm) and ending in Worcester (9pm – midnight).

    The young people involved have been invited to reimagine the role of libraries as cultural centres and explore the power of storytelling. The stories that have been developed from the workshops will be told in three consecutive performances which will be streamed live on from 3pm – midnight Saturday 29 October 2016. This ground breaking project forges a new approach to collaborative arts engagement between artists, teenagers, audiences and local authorities.

    The role of libraries is under scrutiny and this project shows how they are evolving: taking risks to inspire visitors to think differently about the world around them.

    Ju Row Farr, artist with Blast Theory explains: They have driven stories in challenging directions. They are hilarious one minute and moving the next. The teenagers stake out the power of books, stories and libraries in our lives.

    Author Tony White comments: It has been an incredible privilege to work with really inspiring and creative young people in Cannock, Telford, Worcester, and beyond, and I’ve learned a huge amount from all involved. When so many libraries are closing and under threat, I’m glad to have seen again first-hand the vital role that libraries and librarians play for young people today, and to have been reminded of just how important my local library was to me when I was their age. With A Place Free of Judgement, I feel that we are giving something back, and I hope people enjoy it.

    The project is being delivered by a partnership of six library services as part of the ASCEL national membership network. Blast Theory and author Tony White have been in residence in three libraries, one in each local authority area of Staffordshire’s Cannock Library, Telford & Wrekin’s Southwater One and Worcestershire’s St John’s Library. In addition, library services in Solihull, Dudley and Shropshire are working with groups of young people to take part in the project online.

    How to Take Part

    On Saturday 29 October, between 3pm and midnight, anyone can log in to interact with the young people streaming live online at Unfolding over three consecutive events at libraries, the teenagers will talk to you about personal stories and strange ideas and what they mean to both of you. Together you will make up stories and hide them in amongst the books. And, as the evening builds, a new story by acclaimed author Tony White comes to life with a reading every hour.
    Visitors are invited to come and hear the readings in person on Saturday 29 October:

    • 3.30pm Telford Southwater Library (TF3 4JG)
    • 6.30pm Cannock Library (WS11 1AA)
    • 9.30pm Worcester, St John’s Library (WR2 5AX)

    Visit to book your place.

    The finished book will be published later in the year. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please contact Ju Row Farr – 01273413455

    Midlands School Library Camp 2015

    For the second year running the Midlands will host a School Library Camp.
    This year we have decamped (sorry!) to the north of the region and the 2015 event will be held at the University of Derby’s main campus at Keddleston Road.

    More details about the location here:

    The event is taking place on Saturday 11th July. Doors open 10:00 and we expect to be finished and wiping up cake crumbs by 3:00pm.

    Click here for more information and to grab your free tickets:

    At last year’s event we discussed all sorts of stuff from our policies towards noise to using Minecraft. What will you discuss this year?

    Pitch your ideas or see what others want to talk about here:

    Talk Nerdy 2 Me

    Crazy about Cosplay? Starry-eyed over Star Trek or Wars? Maybe you even get dotty over the Doctor! Even if you are new to nerding, everybody is welcome to get their geek on at Talk Nerdy 2 Me (TN2M) on Friday 8th May at the Harris Library in Preston!

    There will be a wide range of guests from Matt “Mecha-Man” Dickinson to Deborah Simms from the Great British Sewing Bee. It will be an evening of activities and competitions, including stalls from Game, Waterstones, the comic shop and many more.

    This year there will also be sign language interpreters at all the talks and panels.

    Fore the altest up to date news about guestsand events check out the Talk Nerdy 2 Me Facebook page and book a free ticket (to guarantee entrance) here: and follow them on twitter: @talknerdytwome

    Holocaust Memorial Day Pack

    I got back to my library today to find that the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) Pack that I ordered from the HMD Trust had arrived while I was away.

    The theme for this years memorial is Keep the Memory Alive

    As with the 2014 pack it contains a lapel pin, posters commemorating the Holocaust, the Genocides in Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Nazi persecution of minority groups, a sticker set, a leaflet detailing the importance of remembering what has happened and ideas and tips on organising activities centred around HMD as well as how to publicise them.

    2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia

    20150102_151936 (1)

    Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on the 27th January, there is still time to order or download a pack here

    Young Adult Literature Con 2014

    Yalc news logo
    Well this week the YA literary blogosphere has been afire with people raving about the Young Adult Literary Convention that took place this past weekend under the wings of the London Film & Comic Con.

    I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with conventions – I love meeting authors & actors seeing friends in the audience and among the people displaying their wares and seeing the cosplayers BUT I really do not enjoy massive crowds of people, in the past my con of choice has been the MCM Expo in Docklands, followed closely by the LFCC but as con culture has grown in the UK so have the crowds and navigating my way through packed gang-ways makes my want to run away screaming. My past survival technique have always been to get in early, see as much as I can and get out before it gets unmanageable.

    You want to know something cool? – I was at YALC on the Sunday and it was utterly magnificent! I was fortunate enough to be invited to a blogger breakfast chat on Sunday morning. The brunch featured appearances by Holly Black, Matt Haig, Non Pratt and James Dawson who each gave a short introduction and promotion of their books followed by a meet & mingle with coffee, juice and croissants. Dawson being crowned by Rosi Crawley with Non Pratt, Matt Haig & Holly Black seated from left to right next to them

    My personal highlights of YALC 2014 (in no particular order) were:

    Catching up with wonderful human beings Non Pratt and His Majesty James Dawson the new Queen of Teen
    Meeting Matt Haig and chatting about the importance of libraries, reading and the differences between school and public libraries
    Seeing (and speaking to) Jim and Darren who were (I think) the only two other male bloggers at the blogger brunch
    Speaking to Nina, Rosi & Harriet in person for a change rather than being at the other end of an e-mail
    Giving my Ruin & Rising tote bag to a passing teen who had a total fan-girl meltdown when she saw it (she told me she was looking forward to reading book 3 so much and loved my bag and did I know if she could get one if there were any more left)
    Meeting the Chapter 5 team (who are also the amazing Hodderscape team) and having a mutual admiration chat – they recognized me because I borrowed their table sign for a Lego Han Solo pic
    white barrier

    Chatting to the Hot Key Books team, getting a hug from Sara O’Connor and a proof of Clariel thus earning my love and dedication for life.
    white barrier

    Finding the 2000AD stand, speaking to Lydia Gittens and discovering that they have a YA imprint called Ravenstone
    Being surrounded by my people the book fans, people that geek out when meeting authors and receiving signed books
    Catching up with my friends Doctor Manhattan and Zuul (aka Shaun & Jackie)
    white barrier
    Things that I did not do that I really wanted to:
    Attend the opening on the first day
    Speak to Holly Black – no idea how this did not happen, we were in the same area for ages!
    Get a seat at any of the talks – I hung around the back and listened to some but I was too hot and dressed inappropriately to get comfortable
    Find any number of friends, authors and associates that I knew were there but did not seem able to locate

    What I will do next year:
    Book early entry tickets way in advance then arrive early to make sure there is none of that hanging around for hours in a queue to buy tickets
    Take at least two water bottles
    Wear light and airy clothes
    Arrange to go in with a group of friends for mutual defence and protection
    Be aware what* is happening, where and at what times
    *panels, workshops & author signings

    The most important thing anyone can do is support the YALC organisers and agitate for it to become an annual occurrence, this was the first one and it was amazing, I truly believe that next year will be even more spectacular and will do what I can to make sure it happens! (1)

    Geek Night Revisited

    Last night I was at the Deptford Lounge Library in conversation with authors Mark Walden, Rohan Gavin and Steve Feasey for the inaugural Geek Night organised by The Reading Agency and Bloomsbury Books.

    I arrived just after 5pm and chatted to Paolo, one of the Deptford Lounge librarians and Caroline Fielding until the authors arrived along with Ian Lamb and Charli Haynes from Bloomsbury.

    Deptford Lounge is a geek heaven, one of the things we noticed was the film’s they will be showing over the next few weeks, this included Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Them!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers Star Wars, Godzilla and other science fiction greats. Apparently it is fairly inexpensive to get the rights to show films if you do not advertise them outside the building that you are going to show them in.
    geek panel
    Last night was the first time I had met Steve, Mark and Rohan although I had attended events that they were also at, but our paths had never crossed.

    For a first-time event the evening ran remarkably smoothly. I was almost superfluous to requirements as, except for posing questions in the lulls between conversation the talk flowed effortlessly between the authors about their geeky interests and what inspired their books to whether or not the Moon Landing had been faked (consensus was that it was in fact real) and other topics of personal and geeky interest. The talks elicited laughs from the small but perfectly formed audience who seemed engaged throughout the hour.

    Our talk also touched on why geeks seem to be typified by socially maladroit men and why sports geeks have always seemed to be socially accepted at the expense of the comic reading and gaming groups. This led on to a pointed discussion as to why some parts of (male) geekdom turned on their geeky sisters with the “fake geek girl” accusations and threats over the past few years.

    Geek panel close up

    The evening wrapped up with questions from the audience which included a shout-out to top trumps and Joss Whedon as geek culture’s primary go to guy for mainstream acceptance.

    Knightley & Son is Rohan Gavin’s first novel and reflects his love for Sherlock Holmes and criminal conspiracy tales.

    Mutant City is the first novel in a new series by Steve Feasey and has echoes of Mega City 1 and the X-Men as well as the current real world fascination of genetic manipulation and repressive governments.

    Earth Fall by Mark Walden is a modern take of alien invasion and resistance but removing the use of FTL travel and having aliens use other means of infiltrating and directing the human race.

    Three completely different novels but each influenced by the varied geeky interests of the authors.
    Geek line up

    Photographs by Andrea Reece and Caroline Fielding.

    Geek Night at the Deptford Lounge

    On Tuesday 13th May I will be ringmaster at a Geek Show.

    GEEK: ’g?k, noun
    From the low German geck, meaning “fool” (1914).
    1: A carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off of a live chicken or snake.
    2: A person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked.
    3: An enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity (computer geek).
    — geek•dome, noun
    — geek•i•ness, noun
    — geeky, adjective
    — geek, verb
    Merriam Webster Online dictionary

    On this night there will be no sordid acts of sideshow freaks biting the heads off chickens to the baying of an appreciative and horrified audience..

    Rather I will be at the Deptford Lounge in conversation with top authors and self-confessed geeks Mark Walden, Steve Feasey and Rohan Gavin.

    Come along to find out why they are proud to be geeks, and how their love of games, gadgets and graphic novels inspires their writing.

    This FREE event is supported by Bloomsbury Children’s Books and there will be a special book offer on the night. Each book will be on sale for £5 or guests can get all three for £10.

    WHEN: May 13, 2014 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

    WHERE: Deptford Lounge, Giffin Street London SE8 4RJ UK

    James Dawson's Opening Speech from Taking Stock – the YLG London Unconference

    Thank you very much for inviting me to speak this morning and thank you for giving up your Sunday lie-in. Caroline asked me to speak about diversity in young adult fiction, something I’m talking about more and more, and something I’m very happy to talk about. But as I had an audience of librarians I wanted to say something I thought was OVERDUE. I just hope I don’t get fined. I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.

    I am going to speak about LGBT representation, but I’d also like to speak about the role libraries played in my life as someone from the LGBT community. Now, I am aware many, many authors have spoken out against library closures, and the removal of dedicated school libraries and I’m only going to add to that ‘whining lefty’ chorus, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

    Maybe my colleague Mr Muchamore has a point. In the Internet age, non-fiction books are no longer a classroom essential. I have seen the future, and it is every child with a tablet or iPad on their desk. Many classrooms also have a ‘book corner’ where pupils have access to dog-eared copies of book 2 and 3 of a trilogy, book 1 having long since failed to emerge from under a pupil’s bed. It’s this kind of logic that has seen many schools dispose of the traditional library and librarian set up.

    But, in my mind, this is WRONG. Wrong-diddly-wrong-wrong-wrong. First the basics. Number one: the Internet is a swamp of contradictory shit, advertising, and ‘ask anything’ forums with spectacularly misleading information. Much fiction is dressed up as fact. Teachers (remember I was one for eight years) spend half their time teaching pupils how to find reliable sources online (which, to be fair, is a vital life skill), but providing them with quality non-fiction books would have probably taught them more about the subject they were researching.

    Number two: librarians are experts. I also know I was a freak in that I was a busy teacher who ALSO had a bang-up-to-date knowledge of YA fiction. This is rare – I think it would be fair to say most teachers aren’t. You ensure that your libraries have the latest, most important, most attractive and most relevant new books. You’re ahead of the game. You can also spend time ensuring books aren’t lost or damaged – something teachers do NOT have time for in their ‘book corners’. Librarians are also responsible for budgeting and ordering new books, another job teachers don’t need.

    Perhaps more importantly, teachers will always push To Kill A Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men (because they HAVE to) and kids tend to stick to what they know (Wimpy Kid on repeat). Librarians are sooooooo vital to newish authors like me because you’re responsible for enticing pupils to new series or new authors. Thanks you guys! You are taste-makers and oh-so-important for gaining the holy grail of ‘word-of-mouth’. What’s more, regional and national awards, the biggest obviously being the Carnegie Medal can establish an author and bring them further success.

    But there’s an even more important reason for schools to have a library, something that’s clear to me both as a former pupil, a former teacher and an author. Libraries are SANCTUARIES. Bear with me. As has been widely recorded elsewhere, I had a shitty time at school. Even in the late *mumble*, schools were waking up to how widespread bullying was, but my school did little to protect students at, what I call, ‘vulnerable times’: the shift change between lessons; break time; lunchtime and home time. As a teacher, I now know that this is because the poor frazzled staff needed to eat their ham sandwich or dash to their next lesson via the photocopier queue. At the time though, I dreaded these transition periods.

    That was where my school library came in. We had a lovely librarian called Mrs Lythe and she provided a safe space – an island of calm. For a start, a school library is ALWAYS monitored by the librarian, meaning potential bullying is quashed. Nothing too awful could happen in that building under her watchful eye. Unlike the rest of the school, we were encouraged to sit on bean bags and lay around on the carpets. It was a veritable misfits’ paradise. Those who weren’t fast enough, cool enough, tough enough all had somewhere to call home. Although we weren’t strictly allowed to, Mrs Lythe turned a blind eye to us eating our sandwiches as long as we didn’t make a mess. We were safe. It was in that library that I made my friends for life – the people who went on to inspire the gang in Hollow Pike. The scene where Lis escapes from the school bully and heads for the safe haven of the library cushions was my tribute to that time.

    Touring the books around dozens of schools and libraries has shown me that nothing much has changed. The outsider kids – the least confident, most vulnerable pupils STILL seek refuge in libraries. They often take on the role of ‘Student Librarian’, giving them a purpose and a reason to be away from the rest of the school. I have met dozens of nurturing librarians who are actively protecting such pupils. A quiet, safe place where nothing bad can happen. You don’t get that in a ‘book corner’.

    This is especially concerns vulnerable pupils, and in this group I would include young LGBT pupils. By the time they have reached secondary school, some pupils, gay or straight will have been singled out as targets of homophobic bullying. It’s inevitable, I fear, even in schools with rigorous anti-bullying procedures. This is another way in which libraries can nurture young people. Representation of minority groups, as Malorie Blackman has spoken about many times, is vital. Every pupil deserves to recognise themselves in fiction. What’s difficult is that where young people of colour are often supported by their family and/or community, young LGBT people are often isolated, feeling their family or community are the LAST people they would speak to about their identity. That’s why I feel libraries have, perhaps, an even bigger responsibility to stock books with LGBT characters: young people may well be carrying this sense of ‘difference’ around like a shroud. I believe finding characters who also identify as gay – especially those who are happy and well-adjusted will do wonders for making young LGBT people feel safe, normal and secure.

    This is also why I hope libraries will stock my non-fiction titles. I don’t know if many young questioning people will buy This Book Is Gay, but I like to think they might leaf through it in the corner of a library! For the illustrations or sexy bits if nothing else!

    Lambeth Academy, where I am writer-in-residence even use their library for student counselling and intervention groups – recognising the dual role of that space. I know I’m singing to the choir but would urge all schools to ensure that libraries remain. It isn’t about a book budget or the English budget – it’s as much about pupil welfare. No student is going to willingly go to a ‘Nurture Room’, but they need a library… y’know – for books – *wink*.

    Taking Stock the YLG London Unconference Twitter feed on Storify