"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face... The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it... You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do"
When Keith (Strident Publishing) informed me at the beginning of this year that he would like me to present "Bree McCready and the Half-Heart Locket" to one hundred Primary 6/7 children and their teachers as part of the Craigmillar Book Festival I could barely control my nerves. I had never done anything like it before and I started to doubt my capabilities. By the time I got to the Gaff theatre in Craigmillar yesterday morning I was on the verge of jumping back in my car and driving away like something out of Starsky and Hutch! But I didn't.. I looked fear in the face, took a deep breath and threw myself into the experience. I can only equate it with sitting on the edge of an open aeroplane waiting to jump out. Keith was there for moral support and boy, was I glad!
As the children from the four cluster schools in Craigmillar (Niddrie Mill, St Francis, Newcraighall and Castleview Primaries) started to pour into the theatre I was in a dreamlike state thinking "Is this actually happening, or am I going to wake up any second?!"
The first words to escape my mouth are now a blur - I genuinely cannot remember what I said - but after a few minutes the nerves melted away and I actually started to enjoy myself. How amazing is that! The best bit was reading an excerpt from the book - I read an exciting part from Chapter 10. No-one other than me and the Strident team have ever heard or read the story before so this was another goosebump moment for me...
The children were amazing. They sat perfectly and listened intently for a whole hour and really made me feel relaxed. Thanks guys (your teachers should be really proud of you all). When it came time for questions and answers I was really impressed by some of the original and interesting questions that were asked. At the end, Philip Hughes asked me to pose for some photos and I had to climb up the centre steps to the top of the theatre. It felt like I was on "Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway"! Come on down!!
I am really looking forward to reading the 'Magic Door Competition' entries when they arrive. I hope you children took on board the top tips I shared with you but most of all I hope you felt inspired to put pen to paper when you got back to school! I really want to thank you all again for being the first ever people to hear about my book. That makes you really special in my eyes and I will never forget you. I can't wait to see you all again when "Bree McCready and the Half-Heart Locket" comes out in August. Watch this space!