Opening Day of Marlborough’s LitFest: Big School Read with Geraldine McCaughrean

Written by Sue Round on .

Author Geraldine McCaughrean at the Big School Read with Year 8 students from St John's, St Francis and Pewsey Vale SchoolsAuthor Geraldine McCaughrean at the Big School Read with Year 8 students from St John's, St Francis and Pewsey Vale SchoolsSeveral hundred Year 8 students from St. John’s, St. Francis and Pewsey Vale School attended the Big School Read today, Thursday September 26 at St John’s Theatre on the Hill to learn more about the creative process of writing.  Visiting author Geraldine McCaughrean told the students, “Books are a fire escape from a burning world.”

Geraldine McCaughrean, has written over one hundred and seventy books and has won numerous prizes.  She has won the Carnegie medal twice, once at the start of her career, thirty years ago, and last year for her novel “Where the World Ends”, a historical adventure based on a true story set on the remote island of St Kilda.

Geraldine told the students, “Many books tackle issues such as global warming.  I don’t think authors should use a book to persuade readers to share their beliefs.  I’m much happier with books that are an escape. I try not to do ‘issues’ books.”

Unlike many other authors, Geraldine does not plan her books. “I like to be in the same frame of mind as the reader and want to turn over the page and find out what happens next.”

She was, she admitted, painfully shy as a child and inarticulate but she discovered her voice through writing. 

Through a variety of questions and answers to her audience Geraldine demonstrated to the students the world of the imagination.  “I want to demonstrate that writing is entirely a matter of choice and there is room for everyone to be a writer or creator of stories.  All you need is a germ of an idea and then inflate it.  The most ordinary day can turn into Armageddon.”

“I try never to write the same book twice – it’s more fun this way.  The most important thing an author can do is to make you mind about a character and to make you inhabit the character in the book.”

Geraldine finished her talk by reading an extract from her latest novel which is as yet unfinished.  “Early advice I was given was that a writer must catch the attention of the reader on the first page.”

“In this book I try to do something different. I try to make the reader interested in the person by using stream of consciousness.  I hope it will be enough to make you want to turn the page.”

Since 2010 over 3,000 local children have benefited from author talks as part of the Literary Festival. was pleased to sponsor this event.

For more information about Geraldine McCaughrean go to