As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
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Bath and back


So: Bath was amazing. It was something I had been looking forward to since April, when I was first asked to give a talk at the Bath Children's Literature Festival. I've given talks about my book and about my bones before, but this one was definitely the most enjoyable one I have given so far.

Giving talks is amazing and scary all at the same time. You get to meet  a lot of really great people who are interested in wildlife and bones, and who either enjoyed my book or who are looking forward to reading it. The scary bit comes from having to prepare for it, wondering if people will turn up, and wondering if you'll remember everything you'd like to say !

Last Friday night, I packed all the props I was going to need in to a big box with foam pellets. Some of them I was going to be talking about, and others I was just bringing to have on stage with me. In fact, the reason we decided to drive and not fly down was that I didn't want to explain why I had a cow skull in my hand luggage at security.

So last Saturday morning, after watching Wild on CBBC (featuring Georgia Locock !) Dad and I set off to drive down to Bath. It was a really long drive from my house to Bath ( six hours !). This is us passing over the border between Scotland and the small country to the south of Scotland.

After a night in a hotel, we arrived in Bath early on Sunday with plenty of time before the talk. Bath is a lovely town and was very busy. On the pavement were cool little spray patches like these:

We parked outside the Guildhall, unloaded my skulls and notes and took them up to the Writer's Room upstairs, where all the writers hang out:

I met Gill McLay there, who is a literary agent and the founder of the Bath Children's Literature Festival. She was going to be doing the Q&A session with me because Jess French had become ill the night before. Gill was really nice, and we talked about the talk, and questions she said she'd like to ask. Here is me and Gill:

Here's the poster for my talk, together with the talk for Cathy Cassidy, who I spoke to later. (Dad had met her a few weeks before and discovered by coincidence she was giving a talk at Bath too, and her talk was on at the same time as mine !)

I had lunch, which was a sausage roll while sat in the sun outside, then about an hour before the talk I was given a microphone, did a soundcheck and set up the stage how I wanted it.

This was my room. I knew how I wanted my skulls to be arranged on the two tables, and my slides were ready too. The only thing left was to go back up to the Writers Room and wait ! 

Just before the talk was when I felt the most nervous, knowing that 50-60 people were downstairs waiting to hear me speak. Gill wished me luck, then we walked down.  It was strange walking in the room seeing so many people happy to see me. Sitting down in front of everyone was strange, and the lights were on me and I felt really hot at first, but I knew to expect that.  Looking out on to the audience I saw children that were younger than me and grandparents, so that was really exciting.

I knew that the most important part was to get the opening few sentences right. I knew if I got it right, I would be more relaxed for the rest. When I was on Winterwatch, I listened in to the presenters doing the very first opening sentences, and they did it over and over in the 15 mins before the show went live. And I was right, was the intro was done, I felt more confident for the rest.

I began by talking about the first skull I found, how I identified it, then talked about this blog and how it led to my book deal. I showed lots of slides showing how the book developed from the very first scrapbook ideas right until the finished pages.

While I was writing my book, I broke my leg. Here I am showing the exact injury I had - a spiral fracture - on the tibia of a roe deer.

I was really helpful having the slides behind my because some of the things I was talking about ( like the hole on the back on a sheep skull ) was quite small and I could not show it to everyone.

I also talked about common skulls, like rabbit, sheep, fox, badger and mouse, and where to find them.

I took questions at the end, which was really nice to chat to people. Some people had brought skulls and bones to show my and they asked me what they were, and it was great to see other children getting enthusiastic about nature because of what I had done. After that I got a applause and after that I knew that all of the hard work had paid off.

After it was over, I went outside for a book signing, and the Waterstones stand almost sold out entirely of copies of my book. Here I am signing a book for someone who was telling me about what bones he has found near his house and that I inspired him to collect bones. Quite a few people I met said that I also inspired them to collect. That was a really amazing feeling.

After the book signing was over, I chatted some more with Ben, Mr and Mrs Powell and Vince and we went up to the writers room to talk. Mrs Powell swapped bones (I had collected a roe deer skeleton just before I set off because I knew she wanted one) and she gave me some really nice specimens which I will write about soon !

After she left I was talking to Ben for about half an hour. It was really nice to see Ben again, even though we chat a lot, because he one of the people who  is an inspiration to me (Mrs Powell is another).

It was also fun meeting other authors. Earlier on, thanks to Gill, I got a signed copy of the new edition of Harry Potter by the illustrator Jonny Duddle. And after my talk I went to meet author Michael Morpurgo after his talk, and on the way back we bumped into Cathy Cassidy again !

Preparing for this talk was really tough but it was really nice to meet other people interested in bones and wildlife. I even made a new friend !

A really big thanks to everyone who came ! It really made my day and I hope that you enjoyed it too.

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Melanie said...

Looks like it was amazing! Wish I could have been there! :-)

Ric said...

Ahhh brilliant Jake.... I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it either. [I would've loved to meet Ben!] ;o) ;o)

Matt Williams said...

I wish I lived closer to bath and then I would have come to see you!

Jake said...

Maybe I'll be down again in the future !

Jake said...

Ben's a great guy.

Jake said...

Hopefully I'll do more talks in the future !

Melanie said...

I think you need to come down to Wales ;-) I hope I get to meet you soon!

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