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During a lunchtime talk on Thursday 7 March, our Head of English was able to give an audience of colleagues and pupils first-hand insight into the workings of the mind of a writer. The day was chosen to coincide with the release of his second novel, The Human Dress.
In his talk, Mr Johnston-Jones detailed the various stages he went through in writing his ghost-cum-mystery story: gathering information painstakingly, choosing a location and imaginative surroundings, crafting the plot carefully and afterwards finding a publisher, not to mention the laborious process of reading and re-reading many times every page to fine-tune the language. He spoke, too, of what motivated him to write the plot and of his own explanations for what is often seen as supernatural. At the end of the talk he faced an abundance of questions: Did he write from instinct “within”, or did he follow a formula? To be original, did he break any of the conventions of the ghost-story genre? Who gave him feedback on his early drafts?…
The talk succeeded in arousing the curiosity of everyone present. Some could not wait to read the book and decided to order a copy before leaving. Few schools can boast a published author on their teaching staff. Most importantly, though, a clear message came out of his talk: namely, that writing is to be encouraged. Hopefully, pupils will be inspired one day to publish something of their own.
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