24th November 2022
Writing: Adam Seymour (Year 7)
Editing: Sami Pyakuryal (Year 13)
The Milton Library organised for Ali Sparkes, the author of ‘Dark Summer’ and numerous other well-loved stories - and also the winner of two Blue Peter awards – to come into Dr Challoner’s to speak to us.
We sat in the cosiness of the library while she told us how she came up with the ideas for her books. The answer was people, places, and things. For example, her first book, ‘The Shapeshifter: Finding the Fox’ was inspired by her love of wildlife and foxes when she was younger. Her beloved novel ‘Frozen in Time’ featured two main characters which were inspired by her parents. In that book, she borrowed Enid Blyton’s style of writing, an author that she cherished in her youth and one she still adores today. Her final example was of her book ‘Dark Summer’ which is based around Wookey Hole Caves, an elephantine group of caves in Somerset.
As a child, Sparkes frequently visited Wookey Hole and loved spending time there. Interestingly, she returned there before writing ‘Dark Summer’ and, during a unique V.I.P tour, was taken into a cave which was closed to the public. Whilst there, she asked the tour guides to turn the lights off and they agreed to her request. Sparkes was transfixed by being in absolute pitch-black darkness which inspired a scene in ‘Dark Summer’ where the main character, Eddie, drops his torch and is engulfed in jet black.
After Sparkes had finished speaking to us we played a fun quiz. This is because she had been on multiple quiz shows and her book 'Car-Jacked' includes one. Following that, she tasked us with finishing off a mini story following on from three lines. I wrote about a book that was impossible to put down, just like one of her engaging tales.
Thank you to Mrs Cornelius for her support and co-ordination during this event.