UK and International School Specialists
Working with over 5000 schools in the UK
Over 800 International Schools in more than 65 countries.
Stephen Davies
Stephen Davies

All About Stephen Davies

Stephen Davies is the author of several young adult novels, chapter books and picture books. He loves engaging with young readers (both voracious readers and reluctant ones) and encouraging budding writers. As a former teacher himself, he is passionate about the place of stories in the classroom. Based in Battersea, London, he is happy to travel far and wide for school visits.

Stephen has recently returned to the UK from Burkina Faso, where he lived with his wife Charlotte and their two young daughters. For fourteen years he worked alongside a team of African actors producing a series of popular radio dramas. In his spare time he wrote travel features and children’s fiction, all set in West Africa and inspired by the colourful characters he encountered on his travels. His first full length novel, Sophie and the Albino Camel, was published by Andersen Press in 2006 and won the Glen Dimplex children’s book prize that year.
“On any afternoon of rain this is a book that you could give to any child, secure in the knowledge that he or she would enjoy it.”
Carlo Gebler, Glen Dimplex Prizegiving 2006

Since that first book, Stephen has continued to publish poetry, travel features and fiction. His picture books and novels have been translated into nine languages and shortlisted for major awards. His aim is to keep improving as a writer and in the meantime to encourage children and teens to unleash their own creativity. ‘Visiting schools is more than a sideline,’ he says. ‘It’s a passion.’

Stephen’s School Visits

A full day school visit consists of four one-hour sessions, but in addition to this Stephen is happy to give a twenty-minute contribution to a full school assembly at the start of the day. For primary assemblies Stephen does ‘Five ingredients of a good story’ (a picture stack with actions) and in secondary assemblies he introduce my book HACKING TIMBUKTU, a parkour adventure story.

KS1 – African storybooks

This is a fully interactive session for 15 to 35 children, based on my picture book DON’T SPILL THE MILK (illus. Christopher Corr). Lesson plan as follows:

Timbuktu turban-tying task

Learn some greetings in Fulfulde

A calabash-balancing task

Read the text of DON’T SPILL THE MILK, with breaks to anticipate what comes next

Children point out rhythm and rhyme

Children imagine a sequel called DON’T DROP THE MANGO and discuss obstacles the character could face

Each child designs their own spread for the sequel

The children’s work can be stapled together to create the class’s own African picture book

KS2 – Talks

These interactive talks contain plenty of visuals as well as questions for children to think about.

Talk 1: Experience and Research

Stephen talks about how his own experiences in West Africa inspired him to write his first book ‘SOPHIE AND THE ALBINO CAMEL’
Stephen also explains how he approached the writing of his book ‘SURVIVOR TITANIC’, highlighting the importance of primary as opposed to secondary sources
Children are encouraged to come up with stories from their own life experiences and their own study of history

Talk 2: Titanic

This session encourages students to put themselves into the shoes of an author who has been commissioned to write an adventure story set on the Titanic. It encourages them to think about:
  • How to approach research
  • How to create a great character to bring the story to life
  • How to create tension and suspense
This talk contains lots of amazing details and anecdotes about the Titanic disaster, and Stephen has found it engages even the most reluctant readers.

 

 

 

Key Stage 2 Workshop (15 to 35 students)

Workshop: Creating Characters That Feel Real

This session emphasises the importance of creating three dimensional characters for our stories. Stephen uses images of children from around the world (from the book “WHERE CHILDREN SLEEP”) as a launchpad for creating compelling characters. Having had the skill modelled for them, children work in pairs to develop their own character and suggest possible story ideas.

 

Key Stage 3 Talks

Talk 1: How to Write Historical Fiction

Based on Stephen’s own experience of writing historical fiction (“TITANIC” and “BLOOD & INK”), this presentation covers three major topics:
  • Research using primary sources
  • How to create the right character to bring a historical event to life
  • How to write a gripping action scene

 

Talk 2: The Seven Basic Plots

This lecture is based on Christopher Booker’s wonderful book THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS. What does Jaws have in common with Beowulf? What does the Epic of Gilgamesh have in common with Star Wars? Stephen introduces the basic plots in an hour long lecture, and then leads a workshop to experiment with them. Fantastic practice for analysing and building stories.

Key Stage 3 Workshops (15 to 35 students)

Workshop 1: How to Write a Thriller

This session leads students through the process of writing a thriller, from initial concept to character and plotting. They discuss and give examples of ‘high concept’ thrillers and practise coming up with ideas of our own. Stephen demonstrates that a good thriller is driven by character, not by plot, and they practise creating characters that will bring our thriller concepts to life. Finally they give our main character setbacks: ‘Chase your hero up a tree and then throw stones at him!’

Workshop 2: How to Write a Chase Scene

The session begins with a three minute montage of chase scenes from four films: The Matrix, District 13, Walking with Beasts and the iguana vs racing snake scene from Planet Earth 2. This stimulates general discussion of chase scenes in fiction: Why do we enjoy them and how do storytellers maximise the excitement of these scenes? We discuss techniques such as close POV, show-don’t-tell and maintaining pace. Students work in groups to create a chase scenario for the beginning of a thriller, and then do ten minutes of speed writing, employing the techniques we discussed.

 

Workshop 3: How to Write a Travel Feature

Back in 2003, the magazine Africa Geographic named Stephen their ‘Travel Writer of the Year’. Since then he has continued to publish travel features in newspapers and magazines. ‘Travel writing was my first love,” he says, “and I enjoy working with students to squeeze the juice out of a place or memory.” During the course of this workshop, students will acquire a travel writing toolkit which will enable them to turn their experiences into marketable copy.

Stephen has found the travel writing workshop works particularly well with Year 8 and in International Schools.

 

National Novel Writing Month

When working with year 8’s and upwards, Stephen always challenge them to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November (http://www.nanowrimo.org). He has a short PowerPoint presentation which communicates that writing a 50,000 word novel is entirely manageable. In a class of 30, he always expect between three and ten students to take him up on this challenge.

Materials

Stephen brings his own laptop computer to schools, but he will need the use of a school projector and screen. It helps if there are speakers available, so that he can show video clips if needed. A whiteboard is also useful.

Book signing
Stephen is happy to sign books in the morning break and lunch break, on the understanding that parents and students are informed of this in advance. If there is a long queue for signing, a teacher should be available to help with logistics.

To purchase Stephen’s books, click here.

Reviews and Testimonials

“He had a wonderful way of drawing the students into his presentation and was very creative.” Cathy Bliss, librarian

“His enthusiasm and encouragement for the students was amazing. They are all busy creating adventure stories and are inspired to read more because of him.” Billie-Jean Clark, teacher

“We were all hugely impressed by Stephen’s ability to engage the students. I have had nothing but really positive feedback. The students have talked about it ever since.” Sue Moody, librarian

“Stephen Davies came to our class to talk to us and we were blown away. This was the first time we actually thought of writing as a fun thing to do. He made writing seem natural and cool. I think many of us are thinking about writing as a hobby now. I certainly am.” Mahima Kumar, Year 10

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Stephen Davies, 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 trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk