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Students given insight into writing of best-selling novel

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SECONDARY school students were given an insight into the writing of a best-selling novel when Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie co-author Annie Barrows gave a talk and answered questions as part of this year’s Guernsey Literary Festival.

Annie Burrows with Year 9 pupils at Les Beaucamps High School. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society co-author also visited Grammar, La Mare de Carteret and Blanchelande. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 21208175)

While the festival proper does not officially take place until next month, Mrs Barrows’ visit to the island as part of the film’s local premiere was used as an opportunity for islanders young and old to hear about her experience.

Year 9 students from Les Beaucamps, Grammar, La Mare de Carteret and Blanchelande had the chance to attend Mrs Barrows’ talk about the process and to ask her questions about the book in a special session at Les Beaucamps.

Questions ranged from how long it took her to finish the book (about 15 months, she said) to what she enjoyed most about writing it.

In reply to the latter, Mrs Barrows said that she had particularly enjoyed discovering elements from her family’s life in the material that had already been written.

‘It was finding all those little nuggets of things I knew about and people I knew and games I used to play,’ she said.

‘They were all there throughout the book. But also [I enjoyed] writing about what happened here and helping my aunt’s story come into the world.’

Grammar School librarian Anna Quick said it had been a good experience for the students: ‘I feel it’s important for students to be exposed to visiting authors,’ she said.

‘It’s shown me an insight into how Americans see Guernsey society,’ said Grammar student Alex Hendry, 14.

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‘It was really interesting how her stories were incorporated into the book.’

Les Beaucamps students Sophie Duquemin, Holly Lesbirel and Isaac Langlois, all 14, said they had enjoyed hearing about Mrs Barrows’ experiences.

‘I came because there has been such a big push about it,’ said Sophie. ‘There’s been quite a bit on social media.’

‘It was interesting to hear how she did it and what inspired her,’ said Holly. ‘She spoke about how it took 20 years for it [the original book] to develop.’

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‘I was interested to hear about the background about how the book was written,’ added Isaac.

Later the same day, Mrs Barrows held another audience, this time for Year 3 pupils. For that event she talked about the stories she writes for youngsters, the Ivy and Bean books. These are novels about two seven-year-old girls and Mrs Barrows said the 11th entry in the series is due to be published later this year.

n The talks were organised by the Guernsey Literary Festival with sponsorship from PraxisIFM and the support of Education, Sport & Culture.

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