I know I’m probably going to regret it, but I’m giving a talk at Elgin High School next month as part of World Book Day. Yes, on March the 2nd I’ll be addressing two Assemblies: at 11:00 I’ll be traumatising 13-year-olds, and at 12:00 it’ll be the fourteen-year-olds’ turn to traumatise me.
Both ‘talks’ will be about twenty minutes long, a mixture of reading, rambling and a bit of Q&A to finish up with. I’m quoting direct from the organisers here: “I think they'll really like Stuart* and I'm sure he'll be able to find a not too grisly reading!”
I can understand why someone would say that -- COLD GRANITE was hardly... it... OK, it’s got some pretty nasty bits in it and the whole ‘child-murder’ thing doesn’t help either, but I remember when I was eleven, going on a school trip to Chester, reading James Herbert’s THE RATS on the train. Enjoying all those people getting torn to pieces and eaten from the inside out.
And what were the teachers doing while I was brutalising my delicate sensibilities? I can only bring one to mind, and he was reading RAZZLE -- a magazine dedicated to the celebration of the female form** -- I think he died not long after... I’m not making any correlation between reading dirty magazines and death, I’m just letting you know what happened, OK?
But as I recall, teenagers are a bloodthirsty lot. At least if I was anything to go by. And I consider myself to be pretty normal, so I’d say it’s a good possibility.
Anyway, after my non-gruesome assemblies I’ll be interviewed by some of their older students for ‘Cover Stories’ which goes out on BBC Radio Scotland. They’re going to be armed with copies of DYING LIGHT in advance... EEK! This means the first time I’ll have talked to anyone about the story (outside Mr James, Agent Phil and my harem of loveliness at HarperCollins) will be recorded for all posteriority***.
This’ll be the second time I’ve done Cover Stories -- the first time was last year, not long after COLD GRANITE came out. They were extremely nice, especially the producer, Pennie. So I really couldn’t say no when she asked me.
I’m not sure why the thought of speaking at a school assembly makes me itchy, but it does... Maybe it’s a throwback to my days in not-so-long trousers?**** “MACBRIDE! SEE ME AFTER CLASS!!!”
And I still haven’t got a bloody clue what I’m going to read.
* Unlikely, but very sweet of her to say so. Lulling me into a false sense of security you see... Only I’m not fooled. I’ve done panto you know! I’ll be wearing the old bullet-proof vest and carrying a riot shield.
** PORN! Soft-core, but still porn.
*** Not a typo, I’m anticipating making an arse of myself. Going to happen anyway, might as well try and accept it.
**** It’s not that we had to wear shorts in school, it’s just that my legs weren’t as long back then.