Teen author visits school

Students at Truro School heard how Antony McGowan’s own experiences have inspired his critically acclaimed novels

Author Anthony McGowan held an English workshop for first- and second-year students at Truro School recently. Anthony, whose first book was published in 2004, has written a number of critically acclaimed novels aimed at teenage and adult audiences. The students heard about his life experiences and writing techniques throughout the workshop, reflecting on when he attended school in Leeds and how he twists his own happy, sometimes painful memories into storylines.

Following the workshop, Anthony took part in a Q&A session. One student asked: “If you were able to go back in time and change one thing about your life, what would it be?” Anthony admitted that he would have chosen to be the person who intercepted the bullies, rather than be the bystander. This regret, he explained, was one of the reasons that he wrote ‘The Knife that Killed Me’, a novel exploring how young people become involved in crime, for reasons of self-defence as much as peer pressure.

The author divulged to the students how he drew upon his own school experiences when writing such novels, recalling the times that he had witnessed bullies and bullying to shape the story. ‘The Knife that Killed Me’ was made into a film last year and students attending the talk were able to watch the trailer and get a feel for the adaptation.

At the end of the workshop, second-year student Maisy Vincent said: “Anthony is a really interesting author. Many of his books are teenage fiction with adult twists. His books portray his life experiences with harsh realities such as knife crime in schools. Anthony has definitely inspired me to read more and also given me some ideas for my own writing.”

McGowan’s visit to the county tied in with his being shortlisted in the Kernow Youth Book Award (KYBA), an annual awards ceremony where all of the candidates are selected by young people throughout Cornwall. Thirteen young readers at Truro School had contributed towards the voting, with many other Cornish schools taking part.

Other nominees for the KYBA this year included Gillian Cross, Eoin Colfer, Alex Gutteridge, Sophie McKenzie and Holly Smale. Sophie McKenzie picked up this year’s prize, pipping Anthony to the post with her novel ‘Spilt Second’.

“As well coming down with the hope of winning an award,” said Anthony, “I’m also on a reconnaissance mission to get a taste of the county. My family and I are considering it for our next holiday.”

American writer Meg Rosoff also visited Truro School recently, leading a workshop with students in the older year groups.

Katherine Nelhams, one of the librarians at Truro, said: “We hope to continue to host famous authors in the future, and share them with other local schools, like we did with Meg Rosoff in February.”

McGowan’s next book ‘Pike’ is being publishing this month, with the plot kept firmly under wraps until publication. It’s the sequel to his 2013 book ‘Brock’, a story about one boy’s determination to save a badger cub from the destructive hands of a local gang.


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