We took over a classroom at Woodbridge School for the visit by Sophie Hannah. Her latest novel 'A Game for all the Family' is set around a school near a river in Devon, so we thought this setting was fitting.
On each desk, our guests found a branded pencil, sweets from our childhood and multiple choice questions to test our knowledge of Sophie's books before she arrived (answers below).
In fact the main challenge of the evening was finding the venue. All schools are a maze to people unfamiliar with their layout and as the darkness closed in, guests and author struggled to find the lecture theatre despite the numerous signs I had tied to railings and drainpipes and walls pointing the way.
Sophie had had quite a day of it - her sat nav had sucked the life out of her phone and, without a charger, she was left with no directions, no contact numbers and no means of telling anyone that she was lost and late. But she arrived on the dot of 7.30pm and went straight in front of the audience to give a calm, funny and fascinating presentation.
She told the story of her writing through taking us through each of her books - what real life experience had inspired her to explore the scenario for her thrillers. She also read a couple of her poems. The questions poured out as Sophie invited a conversation with the audience. It was a shame to call a halt to the evening, but I was conscious that she had a journey home to Cambridge still to make, and we hadn't been able to magic a Blackberry charger so she would still be without means of communication. How dependent we all are on technology!
In my anxiety to look after Sophie and our concern that we might get locked in the lecture theatre, as soon as the last members of the audience left, she signed some copies of her books for the shop, gave her directions for reaching the A12 and then walked her to her car. We found that Sophie had left the lights on in her rush to reach us on time but fortunately her car was newer than mine (I'd had to have my battery replaced the day before!) and it started first time.