Nicky is comfortable giving small creative writing workshops for 15 or talking to 250 people. She will always tailor her presentation to the needs of the group that invites her and she is happy to talk about her novels, the creative process in general (particularly the importance of story), plus her adaptations for screen, theatre and opera.
Most talks are 50-60 mins long and include time for Q&A. Nicky prefers creative writing workshops to be a minimum of one and a half hours – with breaks as necessary.
For Years 5-8:
Ideas and How you Get Them – The inspiration behind Feather Boy (Nicky really did go in that spooky house….) and/or The Flask (what magical thing is in this bottle?) and/or Island (the true tale of erupting graves on the Canadian island of Herschel…).
The Feather Boy talk includes clips from the BAFTA award winning BBC film of the book, which highlights how things change from page to stage/film. The Island talk includes discussion of climate change and man’s responsibility in nature, with stills from the National Theatre production and a soundtrack of marine creatures under threat.
For Years 9 up:
Book talks centred around Nicky’s YA books
GemX (a love story for the genetically modified…);
The Innocent’s Story (what would drive someone to be a suicide bomber?);
or Knight Crew (a re-telling of the King Arthur legend set in contemporary gangland).
Knight Crew was made into an opera premiered at Glyndebourne. Knight Crew talks can include clips from the film of the show. Most teenagers find this considerably more interesting than they thought they would!
Creative Writing Workshop (all ages)
Duration: 90 mins or 1 hr
- Tool Kit Plus Creative Writing (1 and a half hours – can be scheduled over a break)
The ideal workshop number (where I can actually give individual attention to every student) is 20 or fewer. It remains pretty successful (less attention but good results) up to about 25 max.
It works like this:
- I spend approx. 40 mins doing a writing ’tool-kit’. ie explaining what you need to think about before you start writing – from first sentences, to language and points-of-view.
- We storyboard using material from the students’ own lives, exploring how to ‘fictionalise’ real events. and push at the boundaries of a story.
- The students have 10 mins actual writing time.
- We then share some of the writing – it’s in this ‘de-brief’ that most of the light bulbs go off.
- Tool Kit only (1 hour)
I can just deliver the hour ‘tool kit’ session to larger groups, but prefer not to because it’s only in the actual writing (and the editing of that writing – which is actually most of what a real writer does) that the students really begin to understand how make and evaluate work.
- Creative Writing only (1 hour)
Making fiction from your own life. We storyboard (as in sections 2-4 above) and I try to pull out the ‘tool kit’ stuff as we go. Suitable for larger groups and where time is limited to an hour.
1. Book signing. In conjunction with a local bookshop or Nicky will bring a suitcase of books and provide a template letter to go to parents in advance.
2. Interview. Nicky is happy to give any budding school journalists an interview.
3. Meet the Book Club. Nicky is happy to host an informal question/answer session with a small group of librarians, bookworms etc.
4. Careers Talk. As well as being a writer Nicky has worked in publishing, the arts and television. Jobs have included: Associate Director of Talks at ICA; Co-founder and Co-Director of Performing Arts Labs (a charity dedicated to training writers for stage, screen and opera); researcher for Channel 4’s VOICES programme and on-screen presenter for BBC2’s documentary series LABOURS OF EVE. A talk about how to make a life in writing and the arts.
Nicky has written for stage (Island for the National Theatre) and also adapted her work for stage (eg Feather Boy the Musical, National Theatre and Knight Crew the opera, Glyndebourne). Her work has also been made into film (BBC adaptation Feather Boy).
Drama sessions include:
- Feather Boy the Musical – Workshop
An on-your-feet workshop based around the ‘haunted house’ scene in the musical where students get to ‘play’ with the material and create their own mini-scene. Nicky introduces the characters/music etc but the workshop does require the active participation of drama staff at the directorial end (which is beyond Nicky’s competence!).
- Adaptation: Film/Theatre/Opera Talk
The process of adapting book to film; book to opera; play to novel etc. Including stills from Island and film footage of Glyndebourne’s Knight Crew opera and BBC’s Feather Boy film. The impact on story of different media.
- GCSE/A-level Story-boarding
Nicky is also able to ‘storyboard’ with GCSE or A-level students who need to create their own material. This session is most helpful to students who are just beginning the story-making process, ie who can bring initial ideas with which we can ‘play’.
For further information please see the Contact page.