Author Eve Ainsworth spoke to students at both Corby Business Academy and Brooke Weston Academy about how her experiences as a teenager informs her writing and made her passionate about exploring emotional issues and difficult situations.
She struggled at school and found solace in books, including Matilda by Roald Dahl, Back Home by Michelle Magorian and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend: ‘The Secret Diary was one of my absolute favourite books when I was growing up. It is about a teenage boy who is really awkward but so funny. When I was a teenager I didn’t really fit in and I struggled at school because I was really shy. I spent a lot of time in the library so reading and writing made me happy. That was my escape route.’
She started writing stories as a child, and, as an adult, wrote in her lunch hour at work. ‘I was in a job that didn’t make me happy so I got a pastoral support job at my old school. They didn’t have anything like that when I was at school so I wanted to be part of the change and make sure that no-one felt like I did at that age.
‘Bullying inspired my first book 7 Days. Nine times out of ten there is a reason why a bully is a bully, maybe they have pressure at home or in their year group. I wrote that in three months and got it published. I had three other titles published and I started to think about Lost, my latest book.
‘It is about grief and someone dying. It is also about someone losing their way in life. The main character is Alfie, an exceptionally talented football player and he has lost his mum. It is about his journey how he deals with grief.
‘I know what it was like to lose someone close to you but I wanted to write it from a boy’s point of view because they struggle to show their feelings emotionally so it is very difficult. As a country we shut grief away and trap it inside ourselves.’
She spoke about her other books, including Damage, about a girl struggling with low self-esteem and Tender about young carers: ‘My books deal with issues that young people are facing. Students feel less isolated if there are things in books that they recognise so to get young people talking about these issues makes them empathetic and more understanding.’
BWA’s Literacy co-ordinator Lauren Fitzjohn said: ‘We decided that Year 7 would benefit from listening to Eve with issues of wellbeing, particularly targeting boys with these topical ideas around grief, loss, being carers and being cared for. The students have follow-on activities dealing with grieving, maybe a loss of a relative, pet or even a friendship and changes in their lives that might affiliate with some of the ideas that Eve has explored in her books, which are touching and inspiring.’