30 January 2020

Birkenhead School was thrilled to welcome award-winning author Lisa Williamson to present a talk on her books and her life as a novelist. Students from The Academy St Francis of Assisi, Belvedere Academy and Oldershaw Academy, along with our Year 9 students, were in attendance. 

Lisa Williamson is the author of The Art of Being Normal and All About Mia. She has also collaborated with other bestselling and award-winning young adult authors in Floored.

Lisa began by telling the audience of over 150 students about her childhood and her dreams and aspirations as a five-year-old to be a story writer when she “grew up”.  Lisa read out the first story she ever wrote as a five-year-old and even had the accompanying illustrations, which she displayed on the projector.  Lisa said that her imagination and the inspiration for her stories grew from the fact she lived in a “boring” part of the world. There was little else to do - she grew up in the 90s before smart phones and Instagram - so she would invent stories and characters to allay her boredom.  Lisa was a very shy child and preferred to be quiet so that she could observe her surroundings and take note of details which she would use in her stories.
A big change for Lisa happened when she met ‘Barbie’ in a WH Smith store, where a passion to become an actress emerged - despite being terrified of speaking in public and insisting on taking non- speaking roles in school plays. Lisa wanted to act so that she could experience other people’s lives, in particular those who she thought were braver than her. She kept her acting aspiration a big secret as she thought people wouldn’t approve of it. A break through for Lisa came at age 16. She began to do drama outside of school, allowing her to relaunch herself as a person, without the preconceptions everyone had about her at school. Despite her parents not being keen on acting, Lisa performed in a John Lewis Christmas commercial. Lisa enjoyed the work but acting wasn't what she thought it would be. She really wanted to be able to put herself in other people's shoes but she wasn't getting the emotional roles she hoped for.  It dawned on her she wanted to be in charge. She wanted to write the lines and develop the characters - something that the directors had responsibility for.

As with many aspiring actors, life gate-crashed her Hollywood dreams. She still had to pay the bills, therefore she had office jobs. One in particular, at Tavistock Centre for mental health, had a life-changing effect on her. It was where she rekindled her love of writing and drew inspiration for her first novel “The Art of Being Normal”.  She was especially proud of her novel as it was an LGBT teenage novel with a happy ending - quite different to books she read as a teenager.

Lisa Williamson has published three novels: “The Art of being Normal”, "All About Mia" and “Paper Avalanche”. Lisa read extracts from each and candidly explained where the inspiration for the themes and characters originated.  Lisa even treated us to an exclusive reading from the proof of her latest novel (which hasn’t yet been released).
She hopes that her books help and guide teenagers through the issues they might have. She hopes to reassure teenagers with her books that they are not the only ones going through the struggles of growing up.   Lisa loves being able to relate to books and she wants her books to relate to others.

Lisa concluded with a Q & A session where she ran around Bushell Hall, ensuring that even those at the back got a chance to ask a question.  Each student who asked a question was entered into a raffle, with the winner receiving a signed copy of one of Lisa’s novels of their choosing. Lisa answered a variety of good questions about: her writing process, how her ideas formed, her favourite authors and books, how she built up her confidence and how the students could improve their writing styles.

It was a fantastic occasion; it was especially significant as Lisa Williamson herself told us that throughout her entire education, from prep school through to seniors, an author had never visited any of her schools. This demonstrated how important these events are and what a great impact they can have on the lives of our young people.

The School is also delighted to be welcoming former Blue Peter TV Presenter, Konnie Huq, on Tuesday 11th February. She will be talking to children from Prep and pupils from local primary schools in conjunction with Linghams Booksellers.

Sixth Form Open Evening

Date: Thursday 13th February
Time : 6.00 - 8.00pm

Our Sixth Form Open Evening is an opportunity for students in Year 11 to find out more about the opportunities available in the Sixth Form. From our Leadership Development Programme, Nicholls Lecture Series and Beyond the Curriculum programmes to our strong academic results and outstanding careers support - there are many reasons why choosing Birkenhead School for sixth form studies can truly set our students apart from their peers.

Click here for more information on the event and Access Scholarships