Award winning author Alex Wheatle, MBE, delighted and enthralled students, staff, parents and governors at Saint John Bosco College, Battersea, on World Book Day, Thursday 2nd March with tales from his life and readings from his books.

The beguiling writer held his audience captivated by recounting his early days spent in a children’s home in Surrey and the dramatic transformation to his life, which followed his teenage years, spent in the troubled surrounds of Brixton in the early 80’s. Alex recounted how, following a spell in prison following the notorious Brixton riots, he turned his life around through literature and reading. The author particularly emphasised how he gave himself the chance of the education he’d lacked at school by visiting the local library and, with a wry smile admitting now he’d done wrong, ‘helping himself to a bin bag full of books!’

Alex read from his critically acclaimed Young Adult fiction ‘Liccle Bit’ and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winning ‘Crongton Knights’ detailing how he’d thought about the stories and characters behind the novels. Students were keen to hear how Alex established plot lines and developed themes throughout the books, particularly the unique and individualistic dialogue spoken by the young protagonists, which Alex explained could be based in any city or town, not just London, that readers could easily identify with.

The author then took questions from an enthusiastic audience, who wanted to know much about Alex’s favourite writers, his own inspiration for writing, what he is currently reading and how long it takes to write a book. Students were also very keen to know when his next book, ‘Straight Outta Crongton’ is released and if he had plans for further stories in the ‘Crongton’ series.

Chair of Governor’s at Saint John Bosco College remarked that: “Alex really gained the attention of the students and his varied and colourful background led to many curious and probing questions. The excerpts that he read grabbed your interest! They seemed shocked that a book could take years to write. I enjoyed being part of such a positive session.”

Headteacher Mr Paul Dunne said: “we were privileged to have Alex visit our school and it was a pleasure to see our students engaged and entertained by a wonderful speaker, making World Book Day at Saint John Bosco College such a success.”

Thanks should also go to Adriana from ‘Pea Green Boat Books’ for their support with the event.

Article supplied by Richard Longley