Author returns to inspire next generation of Cramlington pupils

Cramlington Learning Village students Matthew, Chloe, Freyja and Erin with author David Almond.
Cramlington Learning Village students Matthew, Chloe, Freyja and Erin with author David Almond.

A popular author returned to where it all began 20 years ago.

When he was an unknown writer two decades ago, David Almond promoted the book which launched his stellar career.

Skellig won multiple awards, has been published in 40 languages and turned into plays for stage and radio, a film and opera.

However, he told students at Cramlington Learning Village that success followed the failure of his first book, which took five years to write, but was rejected by publishers.

David read extracts from his latest novel The Colour Of The Sun, which, like all of his stories, is set in the north east, and provided insights into his inspiration, his approach to writing and his forthcoming work.

David said: “It’s a great school. The students are wonderful and there’s a relaxed and positive feeling around the whole place.”

He also had a firm message for those who believe young people are too preoccupied with their phones and computer games to read.

“Come to places like Cramlington,” he said. “They’ll see that there’s an amazing amount of reading going on.

“There’s a really strong reading culture and the biggest growth area in publishing at the moment is children’s books.”

Cramlington Learning Village librarian Eileen Armstrong said: “It’s a great testament to the school that one of today’s most prominent and successful writers chose to come here and say such kind words.”

She added: “We work hard as a school to make reading engaging and fun so that students can go on to achieve more highly.

“We see every day that so many of our young people are enthusiastic readers, passionate about books. Reading is an important part of their lives.”

The students heard how from an early age David wanted to be a writer. He was inspired by the stories and the gossip he heard, his local library and his Uncle Amos, who ran a printing shop in Felling and was a prolific, but unpublished, writer.

David said: “Of course, I like the north east – I live in the north east and I come from this place.

“When I first started to get success a few people assumed that I would move to London, but I never really felt that desire. I go to London a lot, but I’m very proud to still live in the north east and to draw on its forces.”

He is already writing another novel and in the autumn, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, his graphic novel called War is Over will be published.