On Wednesday 4 February parents and students from all over Cornwall were inspired by the famous young adult author Meg Rosoff who presented a talk about her life and career.
Meg, whose first novel, ‘How I Live Now’, won multiple awards, entertained a packed audience at Truro School’s Burrell Theatre. She shared some hilarious stories of her move from New York to London, as a young adult herself, how she stopped whinging and took risks, how she writes and the madness in her head that inspires her.
The event, organised by Truro School Library, drew in students from all over the county, including Richard Lander, Pool Academy, Camborne Science and International Academy, Redruth and Helston.
Meg was introduced by Truro School sixth form student Sneha Sen who spoke about the lively workshop Meg had led earlier in the day, in which she shared the mantra she lives and writes by: “We do not see the things as they are, we see them as WE are,” encouraging students to recognise the value of their individuality.
Sneha said afterwards: ‘I had been very nervous about welcoming Meg to the stage. Despite preparing an introduction I decided to drop the rehearsed speech after meeting her. She is very down to earth which helped me to relax and simply enjoy the experience.’
Meg took the audience on a journey of her life, a one that she imagined as a teenager would go on a level, flat trajectory until dropping off in old age. How wrong that was. The highs and lows of her life were amusingly told, including her time at Harvard University and her reaction to arriving in London at the height of the punk era – which included having bin bag and safety-pin envy.
But Meg also shared a touching insight into the trials she had faced with the cancer that claimed her young sister, how that prompted her to take hold of her own life and get writing, and how her own diagnosis of the illness ripped a hole in the successful release of her first novel.
Truro School Headmaster Andrew Gordon-Brown said: ‘Meg spoke honestly and openly about her life, her character, her books and her writing – delivering hilarious anecdotes and wise advice on becoming a writer’.
Despite the success of her first published novel, Meg’s second offering, Just In Case, was originally turned down. It went on, however, to win the Carnegie Medal and highlighted the importance of what it is to sometimes fail and get it wrong, she said: ‘It is important not to be afraid of failure as you often learn more from failing than you do succeeding.’
At the end of the evening, the audience asked Meg questions including how she deals with writer’s block and which novel was her favourite to write.
She explained that patience is often a virtue when trying to write great novels, rather than trying to force the storyline in a particular direction. Although she said, with ‘How I Live Now’, the story came to her almost at once and consequently was her favourite book because it was the easiest.
Meg Rosoff now returns to London to focus her attention on getting her new book published, working title Duck Zoo.