Download my school visit flyer

Do you do author visits in schools?

Yes! I love doing school visits, festivals, career talks and other events.

If you are new to inviting authors to your school, here's the most definitive guide to school visits I've ever read, by author Nicola Morgan.

If you're an author nosing around my website for tips on school visits, here's a great guide to what schools want by former School Librarian of the Year Duncan Wright.

What are your school visits like?

I met Topiary Man at
the Pop Up Festival
of Stories
I try to tailor my presentations to the needs of the school. Please speak to me about any specific needs. Each presentation takes about 45 minutes. Additional time must be allotted for comments.

Hero's Journey. One of my most popular presentations is about the Hero's Journey - a pattern found in many narratives throughout the world. I use the Hero's Journey to tell the story of my own journey to becoming an author - from my coming of age in the Philippines to being a journalist during a revolution in 1986.

The Mythology of Geography. Both Tall Story and Shine are underpinned by mythology from my native Philippines. I talk about how mythology was called the earliest form of science as people used myths to explain their world. Then I use examples of how people from all over have explained the natural wonders around them.

Workshops Yes! I do workshops! But just to be clear, on a school visit, I will only do them in addition to a presentation. This is because I think coming in just to do a workshop without introducing myself and my work would negate the magic of meeting an author. Given enough time, the results can be amazing!
     a. Hero's Journey Workshop After much experimentation, I've developed this fun workshop to follow my presentation on the Hero's Journey. The children plan their own Quest story, designing heroes and villains, creating a setting, developing an inciting event that catapults their characters into adventure. It's great with a single class group of from 20 pupils, but with help from enthusiastic staff, the workshop also rocks with up to 60 children. 1 1/2 to two hours
     b. 300 Word Challenge. This is based on an amazing event I did at my book launch in 2013. Read about it here. Children write 300 words (give or take a few) on a specific theme (set by the teacher or by me). I will read their work ahead of time and respond to a selection in the style of an author critique group. 45 minutes
Poetry Workshops? Sorry! I'm afraid though I have been moved to write poetry a few times, I am no poet and a Poetry Workshop is not part of my skillset!

Signing books at Copthall School, World Book Week 2014

What school levels will you visit?

Tall Story is regarded as a middle grade novel in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is a young adult novel in the Philippines. Teachers tell me that Tall Story is enjoyed by Year Five (nine year olds) in shared reading where the children can receive guidance about the story structure which has a dual viewpoint and non-linear storytelling. Year Sixes to all levels of Secondary School will enjoy my presentation on the Hero's Journey. I loved that some schools have also invited me to speak with an audience of parents and children - my writing journey is a story that parents and children (especially aspiring writers) will bond over.

Shine is a teen novel with a strange dual viewpoint in which one of the voices is telling a story that happened in the past. The two viewpoints carry on independently and the stories mesh near the end. I have had some very enthusiastic fan mail from Year Sevens (11 years old), which is wonderful. But Shine would most comfortably be tackled by all ability readers starting at Year Eight (12 years old).

Visiting Xavier School in the Philippines

Do you charge for school visits?

Yes, I do because I do not regard school visits as promotion or marketing but integral to the role of anyone who chooses to become a children's author. In the United Kingdom, I charge about the average rate of Society of Authors members. I made a school visit flyer to explain it all!

Here's a helpful guide from the SOA on organising a school visit.

Where can we get a photo of you to promote your visit?

Thank you! Please click on these photos to download their full size versions.

Candy Gourlay 2014 Candy Gourlay 2014

You can also visit this page on Flickr to download more photos of me. If a photographer is indicated, please credit.

What other presentations do you do?

If you'd like me to speak or Skype chat with your book group, appear in your festival, or speak on other subjects, you can send me a message on the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Here are examples of previous speaking engagements:
  • Why Asia Needs More Writers for Children and Young People. If books are mirrors and windows to the world, are the children of Asia well-served? I talk how seeing themselves in books will empower young Asians, while providing the rest of the world with a window to our diverse cultures. Asian Festival of Children's Content (2015)
  • So You Want to Be a Writer? Career talk. I talked about becoming a journalist in the 1980s, my journey to becoming an author and how writing as a career as changed beyond recognition since the pre-internet days. Year 10 and 12. Channing Career Convention (2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Blogging and Tweeting as Authors. How the internet has changed the relationship between author and reader ... and how authors can survive it. Asian Festival of Children's Content (2013)
  • How a Librarian turned me into an Author. Keynote address telling the story of how my school librarian lured me into a life of story. School Librarian of the Year Awards (2013)
  • Motherless Nation? I discussed the social impact of the immigration phenomenon in the Philippines and  how this theme runs through my writing. 33d IBBT International Congress - International Board of Books for Young People (2012)
  • The Debut Author's Checklist. The beginner author's guide to launching his or her book. SCBWI Conference (2011)
  • On Myth, Magic and Multi-cultural Storytelling. Asian Festival of Children's Content (2012)
  • Jose Rizal: Philippine Hero and Picture Book Writer. How colonialism, calamity and environment impacted storytelling for children in my native Philippines. For the Philippine Embassy and the Friends of Chalk Farm Library (2011)

Do you have any allergies?

This is a question I've added for my own selfish reasons and the answer is YES. I'm allergic to red wine.

Some nice things people had to say about my appearances

"The best careers talk I have ever attended at Channing" ... "Funny, engaging and inspiring - she gave brilliant insight into her fascinating career path."
Channing School Careers Convention

"... thank you so much for your wonderful contribution to the Blue Peter event at Oxford on Sunday. We were all so thrilled with how it went, and you were terrific, with your giant myths and earthquake info. Perfectly pitched to your audience, and beautifully put across."
Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times Literary Festival

"You mesmerised the British and Filipino audience on how indigenous folklore and foreign influences helped shape the way stories are told in the Philippines ... your contribution truly made this year's 113th Independence Day celebrations a rousing success"
Reynaldo A. Catapang, Charge d'Affaires, Philippine Embassy