Alan Gibbons Virtual Author Session

Gina Murphy / Categories: News

Alan Gibbons Virtual Author Session

Friday, 4 December 2020

In recognition of Anti-Bullying Week (Monday 16 - Friday 20 November), we were invited by our colleagues at Manchester Libraries to participate in an author event via Zoom, with local writer Alan Gibbons.

Alan very kindly paid WHGS a ‘virtual visit’ on Thursday 19 November.  Three Year 8 classes were selected to take part in this unique experience and our students were delighted as Alan ‘zoomed’ into their English lessons for an interactive presentation.

The talk began with an overview of Alan’s childhood and later life, including his transition from teaching to writing.  He then went on to discuss the inspiration for his books, focusing on such titles as Shadow of the Minotaur, An Act of Love and Home Ground that demonstrate his fascination with people, society and culture.  Of particular significance in relation to Anti-Bullying Week was an exploration of Alan’s book Hate.

Hate was based on an account of the callous taunting and brutal murder of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, purely because of the way she dressed.  Sophie and her boyfriend, Robert, were attacked by a group of teenage boys as they walked through the park and Sophie subsequently died from severe head injuries.  Hate is a fictionalised version of this tragic incident and tells the story of Eve, who meets and befriends Antony, 6 months after her sister Rosie was subject to a vicious and fatal attack.  When she discovers that Antony was there the night Rosie died and witnessed the event but did nothing to help, Eve struggles to come to terms with his actions.

As the presentation drew to a close, our students were really inspired and eager to hear more.  After the session, everyone agreed that Alan’s warm, friendly and funny manner made the event accessible and allowed us to understand and relate to the subject matter, which in turn lead to some insightful questions from our young people around the topics of bullying in schools, getting into creative writing and the opportunities involved in becoming an author.

Feedback from Year 8 was extremely positive and confirmed that the session was ‘very interesting’ and ‘Alan was really funny’, with Fatma telling us: "I want to be an author when I'm older and it was good to hear his [Alan's] opinions on books and how he came to be a writer.  I was really happy to have that experience."

A huge thank you to Alan for taking the time to speak to us and, of course, to Manchester Libraries for organising the session and inviting us to participate.

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