Everyone knows that Annie Graves is 12 years old, wears her hair in plaits and lives at an undisclosed address in the Glasnevin area of Dublin, with a black kitten and a pet toad. So we kind of suspect that the Annie Graves who turned up recently in St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra, with blue hair and wearing murky lipstick, was not the real Annie Graves at all. Annie’s shy, you see. She accepts invitations to speak in public, and then when it comes to it, she sends in her aunt, maybe, or someone she has kept prisoner in a shed out the back and is only dying to get out and talk to the people. Even if they have to dress up and pretend to be Annie Graves herself.
There were lots of people there, to meet Annie and the 11 young authors (average age 11 at time of writing) who helped her to write Nightmare Club book number 11 (yeah, there’s a kind of 11 thing going on, isn’t there?) – so we didn’t let on we weren’t really a hundred per cent sure about the Annie person. We went along with it and we cheered when she snarled. Because that’s what you do around Annie Graves. You do NOT say things like, ‘Hey, I don’t believe you’re only 12.’
There was an Alex person there too, with very convincing bubbly curls and definitely on the tall side of 12. Alex is the main character in the story. Even though it’s called Dr White. (You have to read the book.)
But the real stars of the show – and it was a show, it definitely was a great show – were the 11 young authors who had worked with Little Island’s editor, Siobhán Parkinson, to write Dr White, the latest addition to the Nightmare Club series. (Look, you know they wrote it, we know they wrote it; just don’t breathe a word about that to Annie. She’s a horror when she is upset. She’s a horror when she isn’t upset too, but, believe me, you don’t want to upset her. )
These 11 11-year-olds who wrote Nightmare Club 11 were all part of the Write to Read Writing Academy, which is run by Dr Eithne Kennedy of St Patrick’s College. Write to Read is a project that works with children in different schools around Dublin, and the Writing Academy is a creative writing programme that brings young writers together with more experienced writers to write stories. The stories are not usually published – it just happened that this group had a mentor who is also a publisher of children’s books, but they are always great fun for the young writers to take part in.
Since Dr White was, like all Annie’s books, actually published by a real, live publishing company, there was, of course, a launch. And that’s why we were all gathered in St Pat’s. But this was no ordinary launch. This was a dramatic launch. Yep! All the young writers , along with Annie and Alex, gave a smashing dramatic reading of the whole story, to the great delight of their audience of family, friends, supporters, academics, adults and children.
We love you, Annie!
Adam Knott, Adam Rafferty, Brooke Maher, Darren Ancuta, Dylan Dowling, Jade Murray, Jordan Dignam, Niamh Shields, Norbert Koczut, Roshan Sivam and Sean Mooore O’Mara
All the Nightmare Club books are available in bookshops or online from www.littleisland.ie. If you buy all eleven together from the website, we’ll cut you a deal! – eleven books for €50. What a bargain!