I arrived in the Library Pit as Nicky Singer had already begun telling the Grade 7s a story…students were listening keenly and laughing or gasping often as she spoke; they were entranced by the funny yet spooky events she was retelling.
Nicky Singer is a British author who’s also had her books turned into plays, musicals and films. She brings awareness about bullying, climate change, finding goodness in ‘badness’, and other relevant issues for teens.
Singer then read from her novel Feather Boy, and we watched the same section from the mini-series/film (which won a BAFTA award for Best Children’s Drama). It was really interesting to witness the author reading the same section of the film. Of course, hearing the backstory to the making of the film was also cool! She told us about the significant changes from novel to film, like that there was more adult-centred scenes (because children must legally work fewer hours and the director needed to pad out the series). We were told about finding the right location for the setting of the film, and who owned the house where they filmed (hint). We also learned why the protagonist’s frightening experience at the hands of his bullies was changed in the film (ask a Grade 7 to tell you the grape race story).
Singer is a big fan of the two words: what if. She says you can write anything and everything with these two words. “What if…the rivers turned to chocolate?” “What if…we could fly?”
Books sometimes begin as a play, like was the case for Island. She said that books are easier to write/set because an author can create anything of any number. A film or musical is much different in terms of size and numbers. In a musical, especially one of a cast of four, the producers need to get creative; like creating a shape-shifting polar bear/grandma (apparently getting a polar bear on the theatre stage was NOT a good idea!).
Finally, Singer spent some time speaking with the Grade 7s about where and how she finds inspiration. She also chatted about getting into the brain and the body of someone else – this is what writers help you do.