Surprise Visit by Author Jane Mitchell
It is not often that we get to meet the authors of the books that we read, but that is something that one of our second year classes (2D) got to do recently. This class is currently studying the novel “Chalkline” by Jane Mitchell for the Junior Certificate.
The class really enjoyed the novel’s plot, its topical themes and the protagonist’s complex character. They were captivated from the beginning of this gripping novel and were anxious to read on every day. Once they had finished writing the novel, some questions remained and they decided to get these questions down on paper, albeit virtual paper, and to e-mail the author. They knew that a response was very unlikely, as authors are very busy people, but they couldn’t help but hope.
What they didn’t expect was that the author would get in touch with the school in order to relay her thoughts on the e-mail. Jane Mitchell decided that the best way to answer the girls’ questions would be in person, so she wondered if a surprise visit would work. While the unsuspecting students filed into the library to do a test, they didn’t notice somebody leafing through the books, until they took their seats. As Ms. Mitchell turned to face the class, the dawning recognition on their faces was a sight to behold. They could not believe it. The giggles and gasps were heart-warming. The author herself was quite taken-aback by their reaction.
Ms. Mitchell sat down among the students and explained why she had felt the need to visit them. She created a lovely, comfortable atmosphere. She read their e-mail and went through all of their questions and discussed each point at length. She showed an interest in what they had to say and really engaged them. She took time at the end of her visit to autograph their novels and she allowed them to take photos with her. It is clear to see that she likes to encourage young readers and to do what she can to foster a love of reading.
The students were inspired by this visit. There were bubbling over with enthusiasm on the day and this zeal has spilled over into their next English classes. This experience has bought English class to life for them and I’m sure the interest stirred up by this visit will be invested in their reading and in their classes.