Arranging a Visit

One of the best parts of being a children’s author is the chance to meet and interact with readers. I love delivering events in schools and libraries and at literary and science festivals and I’m always happy to be approached to come and talk.

I will always tailor the session to the age and number of people in the audience and provide a fun and informative event. I have spoken to audiences ranging in size from 1 to over 300, so do get in touch, whatever size of group you have in mind.

There are some event ideas below, but I’m always happy to tailor-make something!

Fiction/Non-fiction: Ages 9-13

Where do Stories Come From? This is a question authors are asked during almost every school visit, and looking at the answer in detail provides an entertaining event, which stimulates the pupils’ own writing. Stories are important in non-fiction too, helping to engage an audience almost by stealth. Find out how to capture ideas from the wild, how place names can inspire a whole book, and why you should always eavesdrop on public transport…  

Writing Non-fiction

This event looks at how to go about tackling a non-fiction writing project, from selecting your topic to making sure that you’ve got your facts right and ensuring your audience can’t wait to read your work. It uses examples from my science and history books.

Writing About History

This is a project delivered over 2 or 3 one-hour sessions, suitable for P5-S2. Session 1 looks at identifying resources, using  research for A Secret Diary of the First World War as the main example. Between sessions 1 and 2, pupils are encouraged to choose a topic for their own writing. Session 2 looks at how to make sure sources are reliable, using examples from a variety of my non-fiction titles, and at how to connect with your readers. Between sessions 2 and 3 pupils are encouraged to work on their own piece of historical writing. In Session 3 (if included) I talk to pupils individually about their own writing. Each session includes time for Q&A.

Non-fiction: Ages 8 to adult

A Secret Diary of the First World War tells the amazing true story of James Marchbank from Dalkeith near Edinburgh, who went to fight on the Western Front in 1914 – even though everyone knew he was only 14! He kept a trench diary throughout the four years he was on the front and survived to bring it home. His writings offer a great insight into one boy’s view of this unimaginable conflict.

Balloon to the Moon charts the history of flight, from the first hot-air balloon to the Apollo moon landings and beyond. Why did a sheep take the first balloon flight? What were the first animals to see the far side of the moon? Do you have what it takes to be an astronaut? Will you ever go on holiday to Mars? this is your chance to find out.

From Shore to Ocean Floor is the story of the exploration of the deep sea. From the first boats to the deep sea submersibles allowing us to see for the first time what lives in the abyss, this book tells the story of the people and technology that made undersea exploration possible.

Microbe Wars Since the dawn of humanity, microbes have spread terrible diseases like Black Death, malaria and Covid-19. We have learned how to fight back with vaccines, drugs and hygiene. But did you know that most microbes are on our side, helping our digestion, our immune systems – even our mental health? This is your chance to find out more about the amazing world of microbes.

Non-fiction: Ages 8-12

What Makes You You? An introduction to DNA. The session includes an opportunity to extract DNA from strawberries.

What Makes Your Body Work? An introduction to the organs of the body. The session includes a number of simple experiments for the audience to take part in.

What Makes Your Brain Work? An interactive event focussed on the workings of the brain, with particular emphasis on the senses – and how to fool them…

A Beginner’s Guide to Life on Earth: The characteristics of life and a whistlestop tour of some of the most extraordinary examples.

Science Workshop for ages 10-14

Who is Dracula? A fun, interactive workshop developed with fellow scientist Doug MacDonald, which uses the scenario of vampirism in a village to demonstrate how infectious diseases can spread and how the source can be traced. The perfect complement to Microbe Wars.


Ages 3-6

Events based round my picture books Lost at the Zoo and The Giant Panda Party, both of which are set in Edinburgh Zoo.

Ages 8-12

Events can be based round my Edinburgh-set novels The Chaos Clock and The Chaos Quest, or my Fife-based novels Winterbringers and Dark Spell.

Ages 11-14

Events can be based round my teen fantasy novels Beneath and The Keepers’ Daughter.

How much does it cost?

My usual fee is £175 plus travel expenses for a one hour session, in line with Scottish Book Trust Live Literature suggested rates, but do contact me with details of what you have in mind and I’ll let you know my fee for your event. For Dracula events, the fee is £200 per class-sized group to reflect additional costs and preparation time. Please contact me for details of pricing for larger groups.

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