I am very fortunate to live in a city that has an annual 'festival of words'. The Off The Shelf festival happens every autumn in Sheffield, and I have been fortunate enough to hear readings from and meet some fabulous authors over the years.
On Monday night I (along with around 30 others) went to Sheffield Central Library to hear Jack Sheffield talking about his Teacher books. If you aren't familiar with them, they are humorous, nostalgic tales of a headmaster in 1970s/1980s Yorkshire. Jack was a headteacher at a small school in North Yorkshire himself, and if you work in a school you'll definitely empathise with some of the tales!
So...what did Jack share with the bibliophiles?
- he loves libraries, describing them as 'the cornerstone of cultural society' and a 'wonderland of books'.
- his first book wasn't published until he was 61. He had recorded stories from his own days as headteacher, and his last promise to his Mother was that he would write them down and try and get them published. He says his work is 50% biographical, 50% fictional.
-Although his Mum placed a lot of importance on education, he grew up in a house without books.
- Jack reads a book a week, and has done since he first joined the library as a child.
- Jack spoke about the importance of a good teacher, naming one that inspired him. 'You never forget how a teacher makes you feel' says Jack, and told us how he was given a copy of White Fang which made him want to write. His teacher told him that in order to write, first you must read.
He also read sections from his books, including my favourite chapter about a dance lesson at a school for children with physical disabilities (if you have read it, I am sure you'll know what I am talking about!)
Jack Sheffield is extremely likeable, very down to earth and an inspiration to all writers and teachers. I can't wait to get stuck into reading his new book Silent Night (out 5th December, published by Transworld)-watch this space for a review!