Author Presentations & Creative Writing Workshops

AUTHOR PRESENTATIONS

PRIMARY & SECONDARY SCHOOLS & PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Presentations to audiences of any size – small groups through to whole school

Meet the Author

  • Suitable for: Grades 2 to Year 12 or General Public
  • Length: 45-60 minutes, depending on group size and age of participants
  • Session requirements: Data projector preferred.
  • Audience size –from single class to whole school.  To maximise engagement, groups of under 65 students are ideal for author talks. But provided the space can comfortably accommodate large audiences, I’m happy to deliver a presentation to whole year levels or the entire school. I can adapt the presentation to suit groups of any size. As an experienced public speaker, I have delivered talks to primary school students in tiny groups at country schools and to 5,000 students in a giant sports arena in Melbourne.

Session topics for Author talks

Talks can be tailored to focus on a particular book that I’ve written or an aspect of the curriculum. From creative writing to adventurous reading, from historical research to the publishing process, I’m happy to adapt my talks to suit learning outcomes or audience interests.

Sample session topics:

The world of stories and the story in you

Stories surround us, guide us, comfort us, challenge us and help us become our true selves. But where do you find inspiration to create stories? How do you learn to finish what you start? Kirsty shares her experience of being a kid who struggled to finish her homework to becoming a published author of over 20 books.

Digging for Story Gold

The past, the present and the future can all provide rich mines of material, if you are game enough to venture into the unknown. Inspiration can be found in surprising places, once you learn what to look for and how to capture the essence of a great story. Kirsty reveals the many unexpected places she’s found inspiration for new work and shares tips and tricks on how to find story gold.

Past, present and future tense

We live in changing times. How can stories help us make sense of our world? In this engaging talk, Kirsty explores ideas about time and space using examples from her many years of research into Australian history to illustrate how every child has a place in history and the capacity to change our world for the better.

The Writer’s Journey (Upper secondary and adult audiences)

From a passionate love of books to a successful career as a professional writer, the journey to publication can be fraught with misadventure and surprises. How do you take the germ of an idea and extend it into a full-length novel? How do you overcome writers’ block? What are the challenges budding authors face in the digital age? Where can you find a pathway to publication? This session is suitable for aspiring writers of all ages.

EARLY PRIMARY

CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS

All workshops are designed for class sized groups

Requirements for workshop sessions:  Data projector, screen, whiteboard and markers. Students to come provided with pens/pencils and paper. No electronic devices, please.

Puppies and Puddles!

  • Suitable for: Prep to Grade 2
  • Duration: 40-50 minutes but can be adapted to suit school timetables
  • Class size only – maximum 25 students

Session 1: Puppies, pets and the people we love

An interactive reading of Kirsty’s picture book ‘When Billy was a Dog’ and a brief look at ‘Puddle Hunter’s as a springboard for talking about how love makes a story. What do you love? How do stories grow from our passions and our love for families and friends? Students are encouraged to explore ideas about pets and family relationships, including acting out their favourite animal for the class. Imaginative role play connects deeply with finding inspiration for stories. We then do a guided drawing activity together to create illustrations of animals and family members that may feature in our stories.

Session 2: Wild Weather and Puddle Hunting

 ‘Puddle Hunters’ celebrates outdoor play and engaging with local environments. An action- packed reading of Kirsty’s picture book ‘Puddle Hunters’, includes practice puddle stomping, and a brief look at ‘When Billy was a Dog’ as a springboard for talking about finding inspiration in the world around you. It’s liberating for children to discover that everyday outdoor activities and familiar landscapes can be a source of inspiration for stories.  Students are encouraged to discuss outdoor play in all weathers and the tools and costumes that enhance being outdoors from boots to puddle-hunting sticks. We then do a guided drawing activity together to create an animated map of an outdoor adventure in their local landscape.  

MID – UPPER PRIMARY

CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS

All workshops are designed for class sized groups

Requirements for workshop sessions:  Data projector, screen, whiteboard and markers. Students to come provided with pens/pencils and paper. No electronic devices, please.

A world of stories

  • Suitable for: Grades 3 to 6
  • Duration: 60 minutes but can be adapted to suit school timetables
  • Class size only – maximum 30 students

Session 1: My new best friend

Entering somebody else’s life and seeing the world through their eyes is a magical experience and at the heart of enjoying good fiction. Great characters trigger empathy in readers and empower young writers. In this dynamic workshop, students are encouraged to consider every aspect of character development. By breathing life into a new character, students will discover how their stories can connect them to other people and fresh perspectives.

Session 2: Places of the Heart

Capturing a setting and creating a vivid sense of place in a story is a key factor in writing original fiction. Students are encouraged to draw upon their own experiences of place to write a descriptive vignette. We’ll look at how sensory writing can make their prose sparkle and use our senses to create authentic settings for stories.

Session 3: True stories and true courage

Every kid is the hero of their own story and every family can yield a treasure trove of epic adventures. In this session we’ll look at the difference between non-fiction and fiction and how true stories from our families and our own lives can be the inspiration for all kinds of narratives. Each student will draft a story based on a real-life incident from either their own life or someone they know and love.

SECONDARY SCHOOL – YEARS 7-10

CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS

All workshops are designed for class sized groups

Requirements for workshop sessions:  Data projector, screen, whiteboard and markers. Students to come provided with pens/pencils and paper. No electronic devices, please.

Mastering the art of story

  • Suitable for: Year 7-10
  • Duration: 60 minutes but can be adapted to suit school timetables
  • Class size only – maximum 25 students

Session 1: Under the skin – creating great characters

Creating convincing characters is the key to writing powerful fiction. It also requires empathy and the ability to take an imaginative leap into the lives of others. In this interactive session, students will explore key aspects of understanding character through observation. We’ll work on active listening to create a character’s voice and consider how research can help to build a character’s world. Each student will finish the session having created a new character with a rich back-story as a starting point to a piece of fiction.

Session 2: Places of the Heart

Capturing a setting and creating a vivid sense of place in a story is a key factor in writing original fiction. Students are encouraged to draw upon their own experiences of place to write a descriptive vignette. We’ll look at how sensory writing can make a piece of prose sparkle and how to use our senses to create authentic settings for stories.

Session 3: Truth is Strange than Fiction

Drawing from the past, the present, their friends, families and the world around them, students will explore how to shape stories inspired by real life. This session will sharpen students’ understanding of story plot and structure, hone sentence and language skills for clarity and power, develop skills in analytical reading of texts and inspire a sense of joy in storytelling.

Session 4: The End of the World – writing dystopias

Dystopic fiction expresses specific concepts about the past, the present and the future. This workshop examines the key drivers in creating dystopian narratives. Using examples from my futuristic dystopia, ‘Vulture’s Gate’, students will explore plot elements and the philosophical underpinnings of dystopian narratives. Suitable for Years 8-10. Other Genre workshops available on request include Historical Fiction, Magical Realism and Romance

Session 5: Creative Writing Masterclass

A session for committed young writers who want to take their creative writing to the next level. In this session we’ll look at the four key elements of prize-winning fiction and then work through a series of exercises to help young writers perfect their stories. We’ll also look at writing for competition and how to submit their work for successful outcomes.

ASPIRING WRITERS – GENERAL PUBLIC

Writing for Children and Young adults

  • Suitable for adult writers with an interest in children’s and youth literature
  • Duration: 80 minutes
  • Maximum 20 participants
  • A practical, hands-on workshop exploring the varied types of children’s books suited to different age groups. From picture books to young adult novels, we’ll explore some key factors that distinguish children’s fiction and what children’s authors need to consider when writing for younger readers.

From First Draft to Publication

  • Suitable for adult writers interested in any form or genre
  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Maximum 20 participants

A practical, hands-on workshop offering different strategies for finessing your work for publication. We’ll touch upon a range of topics including understanding ‘voice’ and point of view, setting, story structure, character development, effective dialogue, sharpening your prose, research techniques, revision and self-editing. Participants will also gain an overview of the publishing industry, the role of agents, editors, publishers and professional associations and the how to find pathways to publication.

Feedback

  • Kirsty Murray has that great combination – a talented author and also an inspiring and interesting speaker. Her enthusiasm immediately engages students as she talks about her writing and the historical research that she becomes so involved in as part of the background for many of her books – both fiction and non-fiction.

    I was also very impressed with the varied and creative activities that Kirsty undertook with my students in writing workshops. Her manner encouraged and motivated them with ideas and steps to explore and experiment with, in order to develop their own writing styles. As a result of Kirsty’s examples and exercises, each student produced a short story of a high standard, of which they were justifiably proud.

    Suzanne Thwaites Junior School Teacher-Librarian. Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School. Victoria, Australia

Keep in Touch

Upcoming Events

  • 14 June
    WA Launch of When Billy was a Dog, 6.00 pm
    The Literature Centre, Fremantle
  • 22 June
    Puppies and Portraits, 3.00 pm
    Paper Bird Bookshop
    Further information
  • 17-28th June
    Talented Young Writers' Program
    Bunbury, Busselton & Fremantle, WA
    Further information
  • 2 August
    HASS Conference WA
    Perth, WA
    Further information

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