Auslander Author’s Workshops Turn Fact into Fiction
Award-winning international author Paul Dowswell impressed many young, budding writers as the School’s Writer-in-Residence last week. The Collaborative Learning Centre (CLC) and English Department were delighted to welcome Paul for the duration of the week, which allowed boys to participate in multiple writers’ workshops on the author’s specialty – turning fact into fiction.
The UK author has written more than 60 titles of historical fiction and non-fiction for children through to adult readers. His most recent book, Auslander, is a chilling and thought-provoking thriller about a Polish orphan’s subversion of Nazi ideals during World War II. Before he went freelance, Paul was a senior editor with Usborne Publishing. He has worked for Time-Life, BBC Books, the Science Museum and the British Library Sound Archive.
Teacher librarian Margaret Chapple, who organised the Parents’ Association-funded residency, said the Year 7 to 10 workshops explored the basics of good creative writing, characterisation, research and sense of place with students. “Paul’s workshops drew on his own experience showing boys how to turn fact into fiction whilst also tailoring the sessions to meet the needs of our English teachers.”
Mrs Chapple said three lucky classes had two sessions with Paul and were asked to do some basic investigation into the Battle of Stalingrad as part of their homework. “These classes were able to go into greater depth on research, the importance of structure, writing style and about using all five of your senses.”
The author, who has worked in publishing for more then 25 years, also ran a competition open to all boys who attended the workshops. Boys were asked to produce an opening paragraph that would capture an audience and provided written feedback to all authors who entered the competition. The winners were Roman Shao (Year 7), Jason Wong (Year 7), Dalton Whittle (Year 8), Ganathipan Shanmugakumar (Year 8) and Adrian McKenna (Year 10).
Mrs Chapple said many of the boys had already read Auslander as part of the School’s Literature Circle Programme. The CLC has 20 of Paul’s titles in its collection.