World Book Day: Biggest Show on Earth Book Panel

World Book Day

World Book Day: Biggest Show on Earth Book Panel

So on Thursday it was World Book Day! Children dressed up as book characters – as did teachers I discovered later from my sister, the teacher – my personal favourite characters: Joe Wick, the boy who dressed as Professor Slughorn as an armchair and a friend’s son who went as a cupcake from the Hungry Caterpillar!

But on Wednesday, on World Book Day eve, I attended a Book Panel at Waterstones Piccadilly.

The panel consisted of:

  • Michael Grant – Author of the Gone series and more recently Front Lines, and writer of a World Book Day £1 book: Dead of Night
  • David Almond – Author of Skellig, and writer of the World Book Day £1 book: The Island
  • Gemma Cairney – Radio 1 Presenter and upcoming writer of the non-fiction book Open

And chaired by none other than:

  • Carrie Hope Fletcher – West End star and writer of the novel On the Other Side

The event was free put had to be reserved and I went finding myself as the only over 20 year old in the audience, besides some teachers, as the rest of the audience were made up of primarily school children. You can imagine how old I felt.

But the panel itself was great!

What the panel discussed

I made some notes of my favourite questions and answers and I will summarise them below. But you can go and watch the panel yourself as it was live-streamed to Facebook and I think it was also saved! So check it out!

Book Panel

It was a great panel, particularly for budding authors and devoted readers!

But for now, here are some quotes, questions and answers and general chit chat from the panel!


Michael Grant: Read what you want – even it’s described as too old, or too young for you – it’s not plutonium

What were your inspirations for your books and writing in general?

Gemma Cairney – The Faraway Tree. She particularly liked the character of Moonface: The moon is so nice, so imagine if it could be your friend

Gemma – Imagination is the best thing you can have…use it and never ever dampen it’ – it can help you live and get through bad times. ‘It’s like a holiday’

What’s your advice for starting your own novel?

Michael – If you read, then write…it’s not Math…whatever you have to do to get from Chapter 1 to the end…stick with it and understand you’re going to have to work it out yourself.

David Almond – Just do it…we think that writing is about thinking hard, {but} over-thinking can make it harder to write.

David – The process of writing rubbish is how you can discover delight

Gemma – Don’t over-romanticise it…it’s not sitting down with a quill and pouring your guts out…actually doing it is a much more guttural process.

Michael – This is the best job in the world.

Carrie – The curse of One Day, one day I’ll write a book’…no, one day is = never’

What are your weirdest Writing Habits?

Carrie – Eating a big jar of Peanut Butter whilst writing

Michael – Smoking a big cigar

What inspired you to write your books?

David – Tells the story of how he heard the first line of Skellig. He was in Ryegate and went to the post box, as he was walking away from posting his letter he heard the first line in his head. That first line became Skellig.

Carrie – *laughing* It is the hardest question to answer…my mind.

Gemma – I have too much of a busy mind to write fiction.

Is it a struggle to finish a book?

Michael – There is always a moment when you feel like an idiot like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re a fake. And then 20 pages later you feel like a genius!

David – Halfway through I don’t have a clue what’s happened, but I’m going to work it out.

Carrie – Carrie explained that she sometimes has an idea that simply has to go in the book. But it means re-writing 4000 words to get it in. She plans everything and then when she’s writing everything falls apart.

Michael – Michael suffers from back-writing and anxiety about his stories, he often go backs to the beginning and re-writes his stories about 10 times.

What was your longest and shortest book to write?

David – 5 years. No one would publish it. ‘Are you doing to do something sensible now’ they’d ask. ‘Yes,’ I’d say. ‘I’m going to write another book.’

Michael – 3 weeks, 3-6 months, researched books = 7 months. (This made Gemma feel sick!)

Carrie – 1 to  1 and a half years, to write her book(s)

What research do you do? And how do you do it?

Gemma – (Gemma’s book Open is a non-fiction, self-help book of sorts. She researched topics from Depression, Loss, Periods Sexuality and other relevant life topics!) – She researched young people. Mapped the book out. Compartmentalised each topic until it became smaller and smaller, and then going back to square one whenever she started another topic. She sourced different stories and different stuff by talking to people. Interviewed people who went through things that she didn’t. Entirely truthful.

Michael, how would you respond to a child saying that they’re not allowed to read a book?

Michael – What is the worst that can happen? Your mind is opened, you’re scared, you’re sad? You’re meant to be exposed to things you don’t expect. You’re meant to feel. Kids are not fragile, kids are bold.

David – No child has ever complained about his books, only one adult has. It’s always adults that complain about children’s books.

Carrie – That scene shocked me, that scene scared me…it was meant too!

Out of the books you have written what is your favourite?

David – My favourite book is the one I’m writing.

Michael – My favourite is my last one as I got through it.

Carrie – My favourite is the one I’ve just published, as it’s like my baby. I always hate the one I’m writing as it’s like a badly behaved teenager.


There we have it! The notes that I transcribed from the event!

It was really funny, really interesting and most importantly inspiring. I stayed for a while after and bought one of each author’s book, and even got them signed.

The authors themselves were lovely and I can’t wait to get reading their novels! The only author’s work I’ve actually read before is Carrie’s but I’m looking forward to starting the other books soon!

I hope you enjoyed these snippets of the full event and I can’t wait to attend another one soon!

Love Ellie x World Book Day

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