All About Nick Cook
In 2006, Nick Cook became a children’s writer and his Cloud Riders trilogy was scooped up by publisher, Three Hares in 2013. He is now hard at work on his new Soul Cage trilogy, a story where a quantum physics experiment goes badly wrong with terrifying consequences for our world!
Having completed his degree in sculpture back in 1985, rather than face the artist’s traditional garret, Nick Cook took the plunge into, what was then, the emerging computer games industry. For more than 21 years Nick worked as a graphic artist and art director, helping to create over forty published titles, including many chart-topping hits.
Nick has a passion for science and astronomy, often blogging about the latest mind-blowing discoveries made in quantum physics. He once even soloed a light aircraft, an experience he tapped into for Cloud Riders. Not needing any excuse to travel, he recently completed a writing research trip to the volcanic landscape of Iceland for the second book in the Cloud Riders’ trilogy, Breaking Storm.
Nick’s School Visits
Nick’s workshops based around the core subjects of his books – twisters, storm chasers and parallel worlds – are designed to capture and inspire pupils’ imaginations. Nick encourages schools to research the subjects of tornadoes and storm chasers in advance of his visits. Not only are these a fascinating subjects for students to study, but also provides an excellent foundation for the classes to get the maximum benefit and enjoyment from his workshops.
Nick Cook can also supply a free visual reading guide in advance of his visits. This has proved a useful resource and helps to build excitement with students about the visits. The first three chapters are available on Kindle to read for free, or can be read from the Amazon website.
Cloud Riders is targeted at a teenage audience, but is also appropriate for able year 5 and upwards.
Nick offers a number of one hour workshops based on the following:
• Character and Settings: Constructed around his book Cloud Riders and using the subject of tornadoes, this workshop explores the secrets to creating immersive settings that pull a reader in. It also explores how to create believable characters that the reader will really care about. In this workshop, Nick uses extracts from Cloud Riders, combined with a series of interactive exercises, video clips, and with the aid of brave volunteers, he even creates a twister in the classroom (don’t worry, it won’t cause any damage!), to capture imaginations and inspire the students. The workshop’s target is for each student to produce a piece of creative writing based on a twister hitting their home, town, or even school!
• Book Trailers: How do you capture someone’s attention in a minute and convince them to read a book? This workshop covers the creation process for book trailers, from planning through to the storyboard stage. This can be used in conjunction with a piece of creative writing the pupils have produced, or a book they have read. The workshop includes critiquing existing book trailers (including those created for Cloud Riders), exploring how the storyboard process is used in film and games, and teaches the pupils how to create their own storyboards. By the end of the workshop, the target is for each child to have produced their own storyboard. This workshop can be extended to a two hour session where using either the school’s iPads, or Nick’s own, the students and teachers with Nick’s expert support in the production of trailers, film their own storyboards.
• Storm Chasers: A tornado is coming and it’s breaking news. This exciting workshop combines film making with storytelling and creating a script for student actors. Nick works with the students to brainstorm a news story about a tornado hitting the school. In teams of three, the students are cast into the roles of newsreader, weather person and storm chaser. The teams then storyboard their stories that include each of these characters. The session can be extended to a two hour event where using Nick’s green screen and iPad, the teacher films the students against a computer graphic generated newsroom, weather studio and against a massive twister to create a tornado report.
To start the day Nick likes to give a thirty minute talk to all the students attending his workshops. The talk is themed on following one’s dreams and explores how Nick became a writer. For Year 5 & 6 talks, Nick uses a volunteer from the audience to play – young Nick – something that’s proved to be a great ice breaker with the students. He can include a presentation on his writing process to extend this session to an hour if required.
Nick is also very happy to customise an event to your school needs and as an experienced art director is able to set whole school design challenges such as a book cover design contest for breakout sessions. With the challenge set, individual teachers work with their students to create the designs, whilst Nick carries on running the other workshops. A challenge presentation takes around fifteen minutes and is an ideal start to afternoon sessions (and its a great way to extend the buzz of an author visit beyond just the students attending the workshops). As a prize Nick will leave a framed signed print of an image from Cloud Riders.
Gifted and Talented
Nick is able to offer a specialist one hour session to gifted and talented groups. In advance of Nick’s visit, students write a piece of creative writing about a tornado hitting. Using text from Nick’s book, Cloud Riders, and its strong use of descriptive language, Nick works with the students to analyse his work and the techniques he has used. To extend their own writing, he explores techniques with them such as: show not tell, the use of similes and metaphors, and making use of all the senses. He also explores the power of the imagination and how the students can start realise its full potential with their own writing.
Dom comes from a family of storm chasers and lives bang in the middle of Tornado Alley, where twisters used to be a way of life. But after his dad disappeared flying into the after a year long drought, the family diner is about to go bust and Dom feels trapped, torn between supporting his mother and the urge to escape. Even his relationship with best friend Jules is beginning to prickle with feelings he doesn’t want.
When the first twister in months appears from nowhere and an airship emerges from the spout, Dom’s world is turned upside down. Its pilots are explorers who make Dom an offer beyond his imagination. But the pilots are hiding a terrible secret. Can Dom uncover the truth and make the right decision before everything he cares for is destroyed?
Reviews and Recommendations
“I just wanted to thank you again for your fantastic contribution to World Book Day in our school. It really was a great experience for all of the students, they have started their competition entries today. One of the students who bought your book yesterday is already halfway through and is loving it! It was great to meet you and experience your workshops! We all wish you the very best for the future and would certainly recommend you to other schools.” – Laura Thomas, Higham Lane School
“Cloud Riders is the first book in a new series that will power your mind as it takes you on a journey that will deeply immerse you in a Sci-Fi/Steampunk fantasy. This book was a bag of tricks; it had the personality and blend of some of my favourite books. It was a very enjoyable read as it still brought something new to the literary table.” – Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books
“I liked the way this story built satisfyingly up, with characters I felt myself caring about, especially Dom’s mother who carries a secret which surprised almost everyone around her when she revealed it. This is the first book in a series and leaves things very much on a cliffhangar ready for the next book. It has held its momentum for me and I shall look forward to reading Breaking Storm the next one in this trilogy.” – A Woman’s Wisdom
“It’s ideal for readers who like their sky-borne adventure stories to gleam with a little steam-punk polish, and appreciate the odd waft of romance. There are strange gadgets, thrilling escapes, and more than a little ‘borrowing’ of classical mythology. Told from the perspective of our likeable hero, there are many difficult choices he must make that will challenge both his emotions and his skills.” – Serendipity Reviews
“Nick Cook, what an excellent catalyst to have in school to inspire children to write. Our children loved his boundless enthusiasm. The children could not get enough of him and the quality of their work – wonderful. The work centred around Nick’s book ‘ Cloud Riders’ and the focus was descriptive writing. We had Nick for the week. Multi-talented and a super speaker, the children were totally engaged and gained invaluable knowledge and confidence from the experience.” – Bill Lewis, Head Teacher, St Philip Neri with St Bede Catholic Voluntary Academy, Mansfield
“A big THANK YOU to Nick Cook, for his infectious dynamism and his vision for engaging the pupils in our writing workshop at St Pauls last week. Watching and listening to Nick today, and seeing the children hanging on to his words and enthusiasm, has made me incredibly proud. It is great to see and hear the ‘buzz’ around the classrooms and teachers inspired to take on a variety of techniques back to their teaching.
The writing workshop came after the end of a unit of descriptive work on Tornadoes, where our Year 5 & 6 classes had been focusing on descriptive writing and a section of ‘Cloud Riders’ by Nick Cook. We were totally ‘blown away’ when he spent a whole day working with our children. From the moment he spoke, he had the children totally engrossed in the enjoyment of descriptive language. He used a variety of methods to hook the children and used his background as a computer gamer and art director to bring alive several elements of his book.
We will be inviting Nick back again but next time – 2 days!” – Christopher Patridge – Head Teacher – St Pauls Junior School
“Today has been inspirational for the children – seeing into another world and getting fantastic tips for their own writing. We all learnt to follow our dreams!” –Emily Gazzard – Rhodes Avenue School
“Nick’s enthusiasm was infectious and he immediately had the class’s attention. His interactive workshop complete with tornado had all children and adults enthralled. The children’s writing that came from the workshop exceeded my expectation and theirs! He was a great inspiration for the children.” – Karen Errington – Phillip & James Primary School
“I found it very interesting. It was great fun learning how tornadoes were formed and exploring the creativity behind the writing.” – Hannie
“It’s really enjoyable because you’ve got English and Science together in an enjoyable lesson.” – Eliza
“I now see storms in a different way and loved everything! He is an inspiration.” –Isabella
“It helps you see that tornadoes are not only destructive, but also the most beautiful and fragile of things. Mr Cook also has great and useful tips for future writers.” –Nikki
“We got loads of ideas form the workshop and writing my Twister story was brilliant when I imagined about it hitting our school!” – James
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Nick Cook, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org