One of my day-jobs is working in a school for deaf children and last week, to mark World Book Day, I went in to talk to the younger pupils about being a writer. To make it a bit more interesting, I took my illustrator, Dru Marland, along with me, and Reg Meuross came too to sing and play his guitar. And if that sounds like a strange thing to do in a school of severely and profoundly deaf children, well, yes, it is.
But it seemed to work pretty well, thanks to the efforts of staff and children and especially our in-house interpreter, Helen. In fact, it was a wonderful collaborative effort.
First I spoke about the Black Death, the process of writing my book (one day a week for seven years!), and the story of how I became a writer in the first place (basically because I couldn't not be a writer), while Helen interpreted into British Sign Language for me.
Then Dru showed the children her amazing pictures. She explained how she put the cover components together on her computer and how she used Google Earth to draw the map. She also showed them my dog Ted's Christmas card for next year while I burst with pride.
Then it was Reg's turn to sing his song The Boundary Stone, which is about two lovers separated by the quarantine at the time of the outbreak of plague in Eyam in 1665. Helen signed the lyrics and the children joined in the choruses.
After that, some of the Year 5 and 6 children showed a PowerPoint presentation about Dick Turpin, after which Reg sang his song Lizzie Loved A Highway Man, the true story about Dick who was far from the folk hero he is made out to be.
And then we swept up all the crow and skull confetti and crow feathers, put out the tables for school dinners, and Reg, Dru and I went down the pub.