“I feel really proud to be part of this community. When I did the course at MMU it was the first year they had run the MA [in Creative Writing]. I was teaching sixth form at the time and I was having a nice life. But because I was teaching sixth formers, they were all going off on their exciting, creative courses and I got to the point where I thought ‘I want to do something,’ but I didn’t know what.
“Then, one day, we were in the Lake District and we were playing a game which was, basically, ‘name five lives you’d have, if you didn’t have your own.’ My five were ‘writer, writer, writer, writer, writer’ and it hit me – that was what I had to do. So, I quit my job and I applied for the course.
“It changed my life, doing that course. I’m getting quite emotional now. But it did change my life. It was really important. The MA sent my life in a different direction and it has carried on going that way ever since. It’s led me to the passion and the future career that I always wanted. So if I get asked to do anything to support the [Manchester] Writing School, be part of it, or recognise the community that all of this came from, then I’ll take that opportunity every time.”
After the event, we spoke to Liz Kessler fan, Lillie Hampson, aged 11. Clutching a freshly signed book, Lillie told us,
“I’ve learned where Liz gets her ideas from and how I can start to come up with my own. My favourite book of Liz’s is The Dream Maker’s Daughter. When I’m older I want to work with animals but now I’m thinking I might be a writer too.”
We are sure many other of the children present were similarly inspired.