Author Visit- Julian Sedgwick

This week, author Julian Sedgwick joined pupils at Litcham High for a visit organised in partnership between Norfolk School Library Service and the Young Norfolk Arts Festival (taking place between 1st-10th July). Amelia from Litcham gives us her thoughts below in a wonderful recap of the transition event:

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We at Litcham School were lucky enough to have the author Julian Sedgwick visit us to do a workshop for our new Year 7s on the first day of their induction. Julian Sedgwick was brilliant, a great speaker and he instantly captured the interest of the audience especially the boys. His workshop was interactive. He asked questions of the audience, discussed topics and performed an act of knife throwing for us. A main focus of his talk was imagination and the wonderful worlds it can lead us into. He talked about Ghosts of Shanghai and how he was inspired to write it through his obsession with ghosts.

Research is also important for Julian Sedgwick. His inspiration for Ghosts of Shanghai came through the discovery of the fact that in the 1920s soil in Shanghai was so soft that a coffin unless weighted would slide through the soil. The single phrase “even the dead move” inspired the whole book                                                           

Sedgwick talked about his two series of books, Ghosts of Shanghai and Mysterium. Mysterium is the thrilling story that follows the adventures of Danny Woo, whose exciting life in a circus is shattered when his parents die in a suspicious fire. He travels to Hong Kong only to discover a dark world of criminals. The book was written to celebrate the new style of circus that is fast emerging, a darker and more edgy type. Ghosts of Shanghai tells the story of Ruby who obsessed with martial arts becomes increasingly crippled with anxiety after the death of her brother. Faced with a series of hauntings Ruby begins to see spirits. Soon she is starting to see the darker side of the city she loves.

The talk was directly aimed at the new Year 7s and really I think helped them to confront their fears of transition. He told us how his transition was the hardest time of his life, he told us how Mysterium was born out of this experience. In the book he wanted to illustrate the momentous journey of the transition from child to adult. Julian said the best tip for writing is “What If.” I completely agree with him. If we have the courage to question the world we can construct amazing stories. Sedgwick also said that writing was the best kind of therapy.

To finish the session Julian Sedgwick called a member from the audience and proceeded to terrify us and him by almost performing a rather dangerous trick. However, he didn’t to our relief but then fascinated us with a performance of knife juggling. He used this as a metaphor to show how you can’t be afraid to make mistakes. Sedgwick himself dropped the knife showing that fear of failure can be overcome.

The talk by Julian Sedgwick was brilliant. The presentation and workshop was very interactive. I felt that Julian involved the audience greatly and especially inspired the boys. He really illustrated the power of reading. Altogether the talk was incredible, a deeply interesting insight into the inner workings of an author’s mind. A massive thank you to the Young Norfolk Arts Festival who funded the visit.

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