Author visit to university

David Almond holds a masterclass at the University of Sunderland.
David Almond holds a masterclass at the University of Sunderland.
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AWARD-WINNING author David Almond visited Sunderland University to hold a masterclass for students.

Mr Almond, who is an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the university and author of award-winning children’s book Skellig, spent time with student teachers and writers.

The Tyneside-born author wrote Skellig in 1998 and the novels, stories and plays that followed have brought him success and widespread critical acclaim.

In 2010 he won The Hans Christian Andersen Award – thought to be the world’s most prestigious award for children’s authors – and his work, all of which is set in the North East, is translated into more than 30 languages and has been widely adapted for stage and screen.

David, who is a former teacher, spoke to around 100 teaching and creative writing students about how his work continues to be influenced by his youth growing up in Felling and remains firmly rooted in the North East.

He also gave them a preview of his next book, The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, which will be published this year. He read extracts from his latest book, My Name is Mina, which is a prequel to Skellig.

David told the students that the proudest moment of his life was not winning the Whitbread Award or seeing his work translated into an acclaimed film on Sky or a stage play on Broadway, but was walking into Felling library and seeing his own books on the shelves of the place that first inspired him to become a writer when he was a young child.

He said: “I had a great time at the masterclass. It was a very worthwhile day and it’s wonderful to see how the university is flourishing. There is a real buzz around the place.

“I really enjoyed meeting the students and staff who attended the class. They were responsive, and came up with some very perceptive questions.”

The university’s masterclass sessions are designed to expand the student experience and offer inspiration through talks with prominent figures from a wide range of disciplines, including sport, arts and science.

Previous speakers have included Olympic boxer Tony Jeffries, director of BBC North, Peter Salmon and Wire in the Blood author, Val McDermid.