Hello my name is Fiona Scott and I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember.
I am an indie author who works in partnership with Silverwood Books. I have three children’s books out at the moment, Rats on Roller Skates, The Troll of Trafalgar Square and Willow and her Magic Owl Pillow.
I met Silverwood Books at The London Book Fair in 2016. They liked my portfolio and said that schools will love you and your work. I hadn’t really thought about visiting schools so I was very touched and massively inspired, so once the books were published I got in touch with some local schools and scheduled in some visits. I have been lucky enough to do author visits for over a year now mainly with Reception, KS1 (and the odd Year 3 class). I have also visited preschools. The children have ranged from 2.5 to 8 years of age. I once visited every year group at a school in Ashford. I haven’t really got a favourite age to visit but I do like Year 2 (age 6/7) and you can beat a Reception class, just adorable.
The most wonderful part about my school visits is the pure enthusiasm and endless imagination of the children, along with their infectious smiles and delightful giggles. Being a rather large child myself (or should I say young at heart), I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my experiences and stories with the children. I feel thoroughly at home within a classroom and have since started a job as a Teaching Assistant at a primary school with the hope of doing full teacher training in a few years to have my very own class. I have negotiated Friday’s off so I can continue visiting schools and writing as I couldn’t live without it.
My sessions run as follows; an introduction; tell them all about being an author, talk about illustrators (with the little ones I explain I am not very good at colouring in within the lines so need somebody that is). I show them original artwork and how it becomes part of the book. I talk about the ISBN and all aspects of making a book/getting published. I then talk about what inspires me to write; perseverance; never giving up! I then read the story/stories followed by a Q&A session where the children can ask me any questions they may have. I then show them how to write their own stories using the “High 5 guide” and we have a brief discussion sometimes writing ideas on a white board. We then do a themed writing activity followed by themed crosswords and word searches for the speedy children (the ones without writers block). For the younger children I do a shorter introduction and I have themed colouring in or simple activities linked to the story.
I have had many memorable moments from my visits; I’d like to share the best ones with you. The top one that sticks in my mind the most (and will forever more) was a question from a 7 year old child called Mohammed from a school in Wandsworth. This school has a large ESL population (English as a second language). After a reading of “Rats on Roller-skates I asked if anyone had any questions, a young boy put up his hand and asked me the following question whilst frowning and looking very confused; “Why have you written such complete nonsense!?!” Straight away his teacher apologised and muttered to him not to be so rude but I instantly interjected and said that his question was not at all rude nor were any apologies necessary. I explained that yes the story of Rats on Roller Skates is whimsical, it’s silly, it is in fact complete nonsense but that is the beauty of literature; you can write about anything even a gang of rats that take over the fashion world. The little boy said he would write his own funny story one day. He understood that the literary world can be about anything your imagination can come up with.
My second favourite memory is from a Year 2 class in Surrey, at the beginning of the session the teacher explained that there was a little boy who could be very disruptive and would probably interrupt me; if necessary they would take him out. I was a little worried as to how it would go so I took a deep breathe whilst thinking I have two children of my own and I’m quite used to being interrupted and in my head I said, “you can do this Fiona, go with it!”. So I started my session; introduced myself and straight away I was asked a few random questions by said child followed by a few random facts, (I love a random fact or comment such as “I hurt my finger yesterday.”) During my introduction/reading and the Q & A session I listened and interacted with little boy whilst trying to interact the class overall. I think he felt comfortable with me so after a rather ad-hoc session I gave everyone a themed work sheet to write their own follow up story to Rats on Roller-Skates called, “What Willy the worm did next…” and as I walked around helping children with their writing (making sure they were using capital letters, finger spaces, full stops and using lots of beautiful adjectives), I was tapped on the arm by a very excited teacher. She couldn’t believe how much my visit has impacted the boy. He had written two full pages all about Willy the worm and they’d not been able to get to write more than a few words over the last two years. That filled my heart with pure joy and I hope he always remembers my visit and continues to enjoy writing and the endless possibilities that can come with a story.
My third favourite memory is linked to my newest book Willow and her Magic Owl Pillow, this book is about music and dance. It has its very own playlist which I play whilst I read the story. I love seeing the children respond to the music. The very best bit of this story is doing the YMCA with the children (and the teachers). They go bananas for it and I reckon I have had over 300 children doing the YMCA at various schools.
Introducing the children to different types of music and dance including Jazz and Rock n Roll is just brilliant. I am also always inspired by the children’s responses when they say things like, “Oh my Grandad likes Elvis”. This book’s key message is always dance like nobody is watching. I ask the children to repeat it and to remember it at their school disco. I ask them to always remember the saying and to never feel self-conscious when there is dancing to be had, (I remember not dancing at my school disco, I wanted to so much but I was so worried everyone was watching so I’m on a crusade with this one to get all children dancing).
I had a fantastic World Book Day/Week last year, there were two Rachel Rats from Rats on Roller-skates, one Willow from The Troll of Trafalgar Square and this year I have a few people who said they will be going as the magic owl from the third story. I cannot tell you how much it meant to have children dressed up as the characters from my books. I was beyond proud.
This World Book Day I am booked to visit a school to do a Bedtime story session. The children will come back to school at 5pm in their pyjamas (I can’t wait). Luckily it’s in the evening so I can go after my TA job as it falls on a Thursday. I work with Year 1 and Year 3 and I just adore being with the children but I also adore my Friday’s for school visits and writing (and a spot of housework boo hiss!).
Before Christmas I did a library tour and a few Christmas school visits with my festive story The Troll of Trafalgar Square. I am currently writing the sequel called The Trolls of Trafalgar Square. The first story ends with the little troll getting back to Norway then his two cheeky cousins make sure they are on the next tree bound for London adventures of their own. This story links to the Norwegian Christmas tree that has been sent every year since 1947. The tree is a symbol of friendship between Norway and England and it stems back to the help and friendship England gave to Norway during WW2. At the Christmas themed school visits the children had to draw a picture of what the trolls Dunfo and Stonely could look like and what might happen in the sequel. Their imaginations flowed and they came up with many great ideas and some fabulous illustrations of the trolls.
School visits make me smile from ear to ear; I love the enthusiasm, the randomness and the chats with the teachers in the staff room (I always feel so excited to be in the “sacred” staff room). At each school visit I make the children repeat, “Follow your dreams!” They all do and promise me that they will. I do often feel guilty when they say their dream is to be a fairy or a mermaid but I’m sure you can buy something online that can achieve that.
I was lucky enough to receive a big batch of letters from a year 2 class visit, the children told me I had left them feeling so inspired with Rats on Roller Skates that they’d written their very own stories; my favourite was Monkies on Motorbikes! The absolute best letter said, “You told me to follow my dreams and I have been and I always will!” How awesome is that?
I am on cloud nine and hope to have many more school visits in 2018 and continue on my journey inspiring children who in turn inspire me.