Type of Artist:
Assembly style talk and workshops.
Festival talks, interviews, panel events, readings and book signings.
Assembly style talk: Suitable for Years 9, 10, 11 and 12
This event covers my writing journey and how Rosie Loves Jack came to be. It includes a PowerPoint presentation and a short reading. I discuss my book and the reasons I wrote a YA novel through the voice of a teenager with Down syndrome; my influences, including my childhood with a brother with severe autism and my work at a sixth form college with teenagers with Down syndrome.
The book raises some different issues too, such as homelessness, bullying and our view of disability in general. I can cover more adult subjects that the book touches on, such as sexual exploitation and disability and sexual exploitation.
I offer two workshops at the moment. I am happy to discuss covering different topics with any members of staff, if they so wish.
1: Bringing Your Characters to Life, suitable from year 7 to year 11, as I adapt the session to suit the different age ranges and abilities.
The art of character - focussing on creating memorable characters and understanding their importance in storytelling. I look at the external and internal features of a person and explore what it is that makes us who we are. I talk about my protagonist in Rosie Loves Jack and how I brought her to life.
It includes a short reading and a possible interactive section in which the whole group create a character together. I provide templates to draw around and we begin by talking about our favourite fiction characters and why they work.
2: Creating your own book cover design, suitable from years 7 – 11, either based on a favourite book, or your own story idea, looking at all aspects of designing a successful book cover, including writing the blurb for the back. We begin by looking at a selection of cover designs brought in by the students and discussing what we like or dislike about them and why they work or not.
I am also very interested in taking these workshops into schools for young people with a learning disability or hospital schools for children with mental health issues, as I am passionate about giving all children the opportunity to enjoy creative writing and be included. I recently did a character workshop at The Edinburgh Book Festival with a group of young people with mixed abilities. Using a body stencil, which we filled in, we explored the internal and external aspects of a character. Some could draw their answers, others could write them, as well as illustrate them.
It was great fun and everyone produced an exciting piece of work. I also taught a creative writing workshop with young people at The Bethlem Maudsley Hospital for children with severe mental health issues. This was the first time they had had an author visit and they produced some wonderful writing. I was sent two poems by two of the pupils as a thank you, which was so rewarding, as it demonstrated how much they had got out of the session.
DetailsPreferred age range:
11 – 18 My workshops can be adjusted to suit each year group, though my talk is better suited to secondary school level.
I would like a member of staff to be present throughout the events and to help organise book signings. I politely ask not to be filmed or recorded during my events, but please feel free to take photographs.
Maximum number in any one session:
Up to 30 for a workshop, though I like to split them into smaller groups to work, within that number.
No of sessions per day:
Maximum 3 – one in the morning and two in the afternoon – or two in the morning and one in the afternoon.
45-60 minutes for a workshop, with time for signing afterwards
45-60 minutes for a talk plus time for questions and signing afterwards
Areas prepared to travel to:
I am happy to travel anywhere if overnight expenses are met.
Public transport. I prefer to travel by train, so I can work.
Please email us for details
Hold PLI (public liability insurance):
I have PLI with the SOA that covers me for up to ten million pounds.
Rosie Loves Jack – my debut novel
Second book coming in 2020
Mel Darbon introduced the audience of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 to her stunning, timely story told from a unique perspective and explained it’s important to give a voice to young people who may not be heard. Mel’s fully interactive event has been specially created to be suitable for those of all abilities and was a huge success. ‘Rosie loves Jack’ is a beautiful, sensitively written and eye-opening book.
Ola Wojtkiewicz Edinburgh Book Festival Creative Learning manager
Mel has written a wonderful novel to engage young adult and adult readers alike. It is a story that will engage, teach, touch every reader. Rosie is a beautiful character with heart, strength, depth and who also has a lot to learn about the world, and you take that journey with her from word one.
Mel visited Bath Central Library as part of our World Book night celebrations, and enthusiastically signed 160 books, greeted guests and made everyone who attended feel welcome. We had an intimate group of young adults who could ask questions, received honest answers and our discussion could have gone on for hours. Mel has also come incognito to other events to support fellow authors and helped be crafty pair of hands with children during our Summer Reading Challenge activities, and she was wonderfully kind, compassionate and engaged with both children and parents.
Mel’s passion for libraries, literacy and sharing stories about voices not traditionally heard is a breath of fresh air and brings not only her stories to life with lived experience, but carries her audience with her and makes them part of her story and allows empathy to be shared, taught and experienced. Mel is passionate, knowledgeable, honest and a delight to work with; she also happens to be a fantastic author and an honestly lovely person.
Louise Judge Development and Outreach Officer at Bath Library
Tuesday's session with Mel was a real success. The way in which she personalised her story fully engaged the students and the follow-up task was met with enthusiasm and hard work. I'd say that all students benefitted from the session.
Mr A Gunning Teacher at The Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School
Mel led creative writing workshops for groups of our student in 2019. She read from her book Rosie Loves Jack and created thought provoking and engaging workshops that all the students enjoyed immensely. Mel was completely professional throughout and it was a pleasure to have her at Dorothy Stringer.
Ms Morden School Librarian
It was great to have Mel in the classroom with us We have diverse needs and presentations at the hospital school and Mel’s responses were just right. The workshop offered a good balance between structure and flexibility and our young people loved it. Seeing a real writer, hearing about the creative process and having the opportunity to ask questions about all of this is just so valuable. We’d love to work with Mel again.
Paul Harris Key Teacher
Accolades for Rosie Loves Jack: 1. Shortlisted for the 2019 THE BRANFORD BOASE AWARD @BranfordBoase 2. Winner of the 2019 LEEDS BOOK AWARD in the 14-16 category 3. A WORLD BOOK NIGHT choice for 2019 @WorldBookNight 4. EmpathyLabUK choice for #ReadforEmpathy collection 2019 5. A YA BOOK OF THE YEAR in the Sunday Times Culture Section 6. A BOOK OF THE YEAR for Book Trust 7. A BOOK OF THE YEAR for The Reading Zone 8. Shortlisted for the CrimeFest Award for YA 2019 9. Longlisted for the Teen School Book Awards 2020 ( Shortlist announced in September) 10. Longlisted for The Bristol Teen Book Award 2019 11. Nominated for the First Book Award Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 (Winner announced in October) 12. Listed in the BookTrust 2019 Great Books Guide (100 best books) The featured title for The 2019 Sussex Schools Big Summer Read. In addition to which, Rosie was named BOOK OF THE MONTH on publication in: • Guardian - October 2018, with review also in The Observer • Mail on Sunday - September 2018 • Booktrust Bookmark - November 2018 • The Reading List - November 2018 • Down the Rabbit Hole – September 2018 (episode 53)