Susan Cooper is author of some of the most influential and loved children's books of today including the fantasy series The Dark is Rising. She is on a rare visit to the UK to promote her new book, Ghost Hawk and we were delighted when her publisher Random House asked us to set up an event for Susan in a library.
Swiss Cottage Library in the London borough of Camden were eager to host and the date was set for 31 October. Award-winning authors Sally Gardner, Geraldine McCaughrean and Chris Priestley were quick to accept our invitation to join Susan on a panel. No wonder that tickets to the event were snapped up faster than a discounted Tesco pumpkin on Hallowe'en.
Ghost Hawk is a superb novel that tells of the near eradication of America's indigenous tribes after the arrival of British settlers on the East Coast in the 1600s. During the course of a hugely entertaining evening, discussion ranged from the importance of the past in fiction for children as a place for adventure, to the horrors of war, the perniciousness of bigotry and the necessity (or not) of happy ever afters in stories for young readers.
Writing scary stories
Susan, whose book is meticulously researched, talked of the need to get the all the information you can about the background to a children's novel, and then throw it away when you come to write the story. She had, she said in Ghost Hawk, "used the past to illuminate the present."
Sally Gardner gave the audience a preview of her new book Tinder, publishing this week, while Geraldine McCaughrean wittily demonstrated the difficulty of retelling myths in our PC conscious world (no blades, witches, religion or bullying for a start...).
We were delighted to welcome the entire panel of 2014 CILIP Carnegie Kate Greenaway Award judges to the event and the audience included those who had traveled from as far afield as Chichester and Dorset to hear Susan and her fellow authors speaking, but also included Swiss Cottage locals enjoying another diverse event in their beautiful library.
Audience member Sean Edwards of Haringey Libraries spoke for everyone there when he thanked Susan, Sally, Geraldine and Chris for their contribution to children's literature and for continuing to write intelligent, challenging fiction for young people.
Find out more about the authors' books on their websites:
Keep and eye on our events page for future author events.