Students get the ‘Spooks’ when author Joseph Delaney visits

Author Joseph Delaney on his visit to Ribblesdale High School in Clitheroe. (s)
Author Joseph Delaney on his visit to Ribblesdale High School in Clitheroe. (s)

Legendary book author, Joseph Delaney, visited Clitheroe’s Ribblesdale High School to meet pupils, write Claire Callus 10K, Megan Riddell 10G and Elizabeth Davies 10J.

And from the long queues that awaited the author, it was clear to see that he was highly popular, especially with the Key Stage Three students.

Delaney’s main genre is dark fantasy/science fiction, as demonstrated by his highly acclaimed series – ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’.

Before Delaney was questioned by students, the Ribble media team were lucky enough to take him aside and ask him a few questions of their own.

l Why did you come here today?

“I received a request from Ribblesdale and I am always delighted to meet the children.”

l When and why did you first start writing?

“I liked to read a lot as a child because I really enjoyed the books. When I read a book, I always used to think ‘I wish I could have written a book like that’! I first started writing when I was in my 20s.”

l What would you say to an aspiring writer?

“Make the time to write! As a teacher, I was always really busy and, therefore, made time to write by getting up early and gathering ideas/writing everything down.”

l Why do you think reading is important for children?

“It develops the imagination; young people can explore problems and ideas as well as learn about mystery; they can make pictures in their own heads as they read the story, and it enriches your life in general!”

l Have you won any awards for your writing?

“I have been on the short list quite a few times for ‘The Lancashire Book of the Year’, but I have won the ‘Hampshire Book Award’.”

l What inspired you to write the series, ‘The Spooks Apprentice’?

“I have always liked super-natural stories. In fact, my ideas surrounded me when I was a child – whilst working, I was trying, but failing again and again to get published. Needing to come up with an idea, I looked through my notebooks, (this was the year 2000) and went all the way back to 1983 where I found I’d jotted down a story idea about a man who dealt with boggarts (that had come from jottings I’d made about the village in England where I still live).

I developed this into The Spook’s Apprentice, the first book in the UK series. From then on I drew upon the folklore of Lancashire which I tweaked and modified to create my fictional world.”

l Are you planning any new books?

“Yes, I’ve been working on a book named Arena 13 – it’s mainly science fiction and futuristic – and it’s aimed at children roughly aged 10 to 15. The book is due to come out June 4th 2015.”

l We hear there is a film coming out, based on one of the books from the series, are you looking forward to it?

“Well, it’s based on the first book from the original series, but has elements from the others. Yes I was quite excited at first, it’s just been a long process because it’s been seven years since the production first started, so the excitement has worn off, but I’m looking forward to the release date (which is February 6th in the UK). However, I feel that the film has drifted away from the book slightly; I think I will always prefer the book – the true story. Anyway, I would still highly recommend people to take a look at it.”

l Finally, are you enjoying your day here at Ribblesdale?

“Yes, it’s been excellent – everything worked according to plan! Usually in other schools, little things always went wrong, but today’s been promising. We also sold quite a few books (80 were bought by pupils) which is always really good! So it has been a good day, thank you.”

Pupils were delighted to have met the “outstanding” author saying they believed Mr Delaney’s books are “full of adventures” and were a good experience, while English teacher, Mr Davies, said what a “stupendous turnout”.