Heroes and Villains: An afternoon with Justin Somper

Justin Somper visited Moss Side’s Powerhouse Library to talk about the swashbuckling adventures in his first book series, Vampirates, and the mystery in his second series, Allies and Assassins. But these are no ordinary books: the stories both take place in worlds entirely different from our own.

Justin Somper talked about the process of writing his books, and the most important aspect of both of the series he’s written: the heroes and villains. He claimed his favourite villain was Sidorio, from the Vampirates series. The aim of the talk was to inspire and inform children on how to write their own stories, and they were all very interested in the topic.

After the talk, there was a question and answer session, and the children were given the opportunity to ask questions about the themes and characters in the novel and the writing process. The kids asked loads of interesting questions about alternative story-writing methods which didn’t involve having concrete heroes and villains.

After the talk, there was an opportunity to purchase books from Somper’s two series’ and get them signed by the author himself. There was also plenty of time for photos with Justin.

After the event, I spoke to some of the children and teachers who attended:

Mrs Aimee Cobb, from Hazel Grove High School, said “The event was great – focusing on villains made it really different and the children enjoyed it!”

Ashley Clayton from the same school said “it was really interesting – it makes me want to read more. He was really inspiring!”

Nicholas Worsley from the Manchester Academy School described the event as “interesting and informative,” and teacher John Pridham from Claremont Primary School said “it was very informative to hear how an author developed characters over a series of books. It was great to see how villains are needed in many books so that heroes can develop. I am sure this will help the children to improve their own writing.”

A student from the same school, Subbu Dharamaraj, said “I think it is really interesting to see how the villains are developed through the series,” and Hahan Ahmed said “I liked it that Justin explained how he created his characters.”

Martha Hancock from Chorlton High School said “it was really fun and it has definitely made me want to read Justin’s new series,” and Ayana Bukhari from the same school said “I’ve read all of the Vampirates series, but it was great to meet Justin Somper and find out what inspired him to write the books.”

After the event, I caught up with Justin himself, and asked what he thought of the event: “I think it’s been a fantastic day at Moss Side Powerhouse Library. The audience asked great questions. It was exciting to introduce young people to villains. Thank you, Manchester Children’s Book Festival, for another great visit.”

The event had a great turnout, and was incredibly popular among students and teachers.


This event is brought to you in association with IHSSR.  The Institute for Humanities and Social Science Research at Manchester Metropolitan University.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s