Going round to schools and festivals is tremendously exciting, because you never know what you're going to find.

Mostly people are friendly, though quite often a bit bonkers...

Hints (from experience!)

Although I am a writer, I still sometimes need to go to the loo.

I can't actually drink my cup of tea and talk at the same time. (Gottle o' Geer!)

It might help with preparation to find out whether the visiting author is a novelist or a poet. Or even read something he/she has written.

It's very difficult to interest an audience if the inviting teacher/librarian/chairman makes it very clear he or she thinks the visitor is rubbish. And, really, it might have been a good idea to invite someone else.

The best and most productive visits are always those where the children are familiar with some part of the visiting author's work.

In the Cheltenham Festival Green Room, the tea urns contain cold water.The hot water for tea is in the insulated jugs.

An author talk is best not sited next door to the Brass Band Concert, the basketball court, or the Very Angry Teacher.

You can't get more than fifty people in a room ten feet square unless you have worked out some scheme for staggered breathing.

It's always worth checking that the children aren't all going to be on a field trip to the Isle of Wight.

Keep an eye on your author at all times. They are extremely nosy and are always getting lost.

Writers are quite pathetically grateful for any sign of friendship.

You are almost certainly going to have to offer an author a cup of tea. Work out beforehand who is going to pay for the tea-bag, as a stand-up row during the visit is embarrassing for all parties.

Indicate clearly the staff-room chair in which your author should sit. Finding a huge and knobbly member of staff standing in front of one's chair and gloweringly tearing an exercise book to pieces with his teeth is disconcerting.

Teachers are all wise, good and omniscient, obviously, but however unlikely it is that a visiting author will have anything to say that is not long known to their pedagogic genius, it's easiest if they follow the example invariably set by pupils and refrain from chatting, sleeping and playing computer games for the duration of the session.

Enjoy the visit!

If you would like Sally to visit your school, library or event, please write to her here

Welcome Blog Biography Books Journal Visits Questions Loves Hates Links and Contact