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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Tamsyn Murray Event Summary and Mini-Review

Last Wednesday UK debut author Tamsyn Murray came to visit my library and host an author event with female pupils in Years 6 - 8.

Tamsyn introduced the girls to her novel My So-Called Afterlife and read them part of the first chapter. It was great to see them all laughing and really engaged. Tamsyn asked them about their favourite books and there were certainly some interesting choices.

Here are just a few:
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
Halo by Zizou Corder
Spy Girl by Carol Hedges
Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

She then got them to identify what made these books great stories. She talked about hooking the reader, plot twists, great endings and connecting with characters. It was fascinating to hear the girls talk about what they like to see in a book. A huge twist was a popular choice.

Then the girls then had the opportunity to ask lots and lots of questions.
We learnt that Tamsyn wrote My So-Called Afterlife in 6 weeks. Her main character Lucy came to her fully formed and made the story really easy to write. Tamsyn would wake up at 5.30 am and write before she went to work. She still has a full time job in IT. She started writing back in 2008 and is about to have her second novel published. Stunt Bunny: Showbiz Sensation is out May 27th and is a story for readers age 5+. I actually got to have a sneak preview as Tamsyn had received the first finished copy that morning.

Tamsyn loves funny books. Two of her favourite authors are Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett. She thinks The Graveyard Book is awe-inspiring. I think perhaps her taste in reading is reflected in her writing -- more on that in the review.

Tamsyn also talked about the need to toughen up when you send out your manuscript. Rejections are a part of a writer's life. She recommended that the girls share their writing with their friends so that they can become more comfortable being critiqued and learn from constructive feedback. Good advice indeed!

My So-Called Afterlife is the story of fifteen year old Lucy. She is your ordinary teen girl except for two things. The first being that she is a ghost. The second being that she haunts a toilet on Carnaby Street. Lucy is miserable until one day Jeremy walks in and (after doing what you'd expect in a toilet) happens to be the first person who is able to see Lucy and communicate with her. They have a very humourous exchange and in time become friends. Jeremy proves to be a welcome father figure for Lucy and takes it upon himself to solver her murder.

With Jeremy's help Lucy learns how to leave the toilet and makes some ghostly friends. There is Hep who isn't having the easiest time coming to terms with the events that resulted in her death. There is Ryan who is the swoon-worthy guy who is more than just a handsome face. I really liked Ryan because he had a mission to help the other ghosts move on to the next life. I thought it was sweet and rather noble.

The story unfolds as a witty journey of discovery. Jeremy actively seeking the identity of Lucy's killer. Lucy seeking friendship and enjoying the teenage aspects of ghostly life. All seeking some sort of comfort and resolution to their lives. Although on the surface this book may seem like a giggly, laugh-a-minute tween story, it actually deals with some really serious issues. Perhaps in a less-conventional way but the light-hearted aspects of the story are what make it perfect for the 10 - 13 age group. I LOVE that Tamsyn has written a paranormal story which is appropriate for young teens. Right now there are so many YA paranormal stories out there but most are suitable for the 13+ age group which is not always helpful when younder students want to read them.

I definitely think you can see Tamsyn's love of witty, funny and rather quirky stories in My So-Called Afterlife. It is very tongue in cheek and has a fantastically amusing teen voice. A great book for tweens who want to take their first dip into the world of YA paranormal. I enjoyed reading this!

A huge thank you to Tamsyn for hosting the event and bringing lots of reading excitement into my library.


The Book Bug said...

I'm jealous. So jealous. I wish I went to your school or worked there or something. You got to meet Tasmyn Murray. Did I mention I am jealous?!

Splendibird said...

I haven't heard of Tamsyn before but I love the sound of her book - the fact that Lucy haunts a public toilet particularly appeals to my sense of humour. Will definitely be checking it out.

Iffath♥Ahmed said...

I can't believe you got to meet Tamsyn! Glad you had fun! :D

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Oh how cool! Thank you for sharing the picture :)

Darlyn said...

The story of the her books sounds pretty interesting.Ghost in a toilet?What's fun than that?*LOL*

Lauren said...

Your students must be so psyched to have a blogger for a librarian and to have awesome author guests like Tamsyn Murray visiting. I really liked My So-Called Afterlife, glad to hear you did too.

Luisa at Chicklish said...

This sounds wonderful, and I love the pic! Great review, too. Thanks!

Christina/Book Addict said...

Wow! What a cool experience for your students. They must have been ecstatic!

prophecygirl said...

Oh, this looks fantastic! Love the pics. :)

in which a girl reads said...

That is BEYOND awesome that you were able to get an author to come talk at school! :)

I really liked your mini-review as well, this book sounds so funny and cute. (I loled at the toilet part, haha).

brizmus said...

This sounds like it must have been a super fun event! She sounds incredibly amazing, to be able to juggle writing and IT like that and still come out with something awesome. Go her!

And the book sounds fab!

Rhiana said...

You have some very lucky students Becky, sounds like the event was a great success. I loved My So-Called Afterlife, and we're really looking forward to Stunt Bunny in this house!

Tam said...

Thanks for this awesome write-up, Becky, the girls were amazing and asked some brilliant questions. Thank you for having me visit :)

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I loved My So-Called Afterlife. Lucy really made me giggle.

I Want To Read That said...

I loved My so called afterlife too:) Thanks for the great post :)