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Last Tuesday we welcomed children's author and actor Lisa Williamson into school, to talk about her new book series 'Bigg School' and the books she had brought with her - 'Best Friends Forever' and 'Double Drama'. Lisa wowed the audience of our Year 7 students and children from local primary schools who were able to attend, speaking of her childhood, overcoming shyness as a teenager, and how she has eventually ended up working as an actor and then a  full time writer. Lisa talked through an experience of meeting a real-life Barbie when she was little, and this inspired her, realising she could pretend to be someone else. 

Lisa explained that she spent most of her childhood crippled with shyness that meant she hid under tables, however she enjoyed writing and drawing, or getting lost in the stories she was reading, mainly Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. Lisa knew she wanted to be a writer from a young age, as she was always making up stories in her head, even though she says they were mainly a rip-off version of what she was reading at the time.

At 19, Lisa decided to move to London to pursue acting and went to study at University there. She got jobs in Panto, as well as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, one of the witches from Macbeth (The Musical) and even played the Mum in the Christmas advert for John Lewis, which starred Monty the Penguin. Lisa has most recently featured on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, but she focusses more on her writing now, rather than acting.

The 'Bigg School' series of books are written for 11 year old Lisa, the kid who started high school still struggling with her shyness and lack of confidence, and who had a similar experience to main character in the first book, 'Best Friends Forever'. Lisa told us about Lola, who has pinky-promised with her best friend Evie (who she has been BFF's with since they were babies) that they would stay best friends forever and always stick together at high school, making sure to eat lunch together each day. Everything goes well until Evie meets Cleo, a snooty show-off with a sister in Year 10, who knows how to be cool and popular at high school and makes things a bit tricky between the best friends. Lisa read a passage from the book, and with her mesmerising voices and ability to bring the text to life, she made the story extremely engaging. 

The second book in the series is 'Double Drama', and this has a different voice as the main character. Daniel tells his story of being a young carer with annoying twin sisters, having to help his family out whenever he can. He also struggles with his desire to be on stage, choosing football over the theatre auditions and then instantly regretting it. 

Lisa showed us the evolution of the book covers, how the idea starts and is then edited over time to become the cover finally printed. She also showed us a sneak preview of the next book, soon to be released, 'Secret Crush'. 

After the presentation and speaking part of the visit was done, Lisa started some Q&A's. Every student picked was given a raffle ticket, and was put into a prize draw to win a book. Lots of hands were raised high in the air, all of the students were desperate to be picked. Kungawo and Harry were 2 of the many students who asked questions, they wanted to know "How long does it take to write a book start to finish?" and "Did you do well in your English exams?" Lily from Kirkham & Wesham Primary School was the owner of the lucky raffle ticket, and winner of the book of her choice. After much deliberation, she picked 'Best Friends Forever'.

Primary school students came forward first to get their books signed, if they had pre-ordered their copy. Lisa chatted to them as they waiting patiently whilst she wrote a quick message in each of their books. Ezri from Kirkham & Wesham Primary listened carefully as Lisa chatted to her, and then posed for a photo. Then it was the turn of our students, with pre-orders getting their book/s signed first. Mr Waller then read out a list of students who had been selected to receive a book as a gift from school. This was a mix of rewards for good behaviour, a recommendation from Mr Penney or those students who are in receipt of Pupil Premium. 

A big thank you to Elaine from our local bookshop, Book, Bean and Ice Cream, who arranged this visit to school as part of Lisa's book tour. She had the tricky job of co-ordinating all the book gifts, as well as looking after Lisa during her visit. Thank you also to the local primary schools for coming to visit, especially to KWPS Year 6 who got drenched in rain showers both ways, we hope you still enjoyed your time here at Carr Hill.


More information about Lisa Williamson

I was born in Nottingham in 1980, which means I’ve now been an adult for well over half my life. I’m suitably terrified! I think I like to write for young adults because I still feel like I am one. 

I was a bit of a weird kid. Chronically shy, I spent a lot of time drawing and hiding under tables. Then for some strange and unexpected reason, I decided I wanted to be an actor. I eventually got over my shyness and aged nineteen, moved to London to study Performing Arts at Middlesex University. Here I met some of my very best mates and spent three bizarre but happy years singing show tunes and rolling around in fake blood, blagging a degree in the process. After graduation, I adopted the stage name of Lisa Cassidy (Lisa Williamson was already taken by Dawn from Hollyoaks…) and did all sorts of daft acting jobs, from appearing in panto with Basil Brush, to playing a Witch in Macbeth: The Musical. These days I act in lots of TV commercials, usually playing the role of 'dishevelled mum’. 

I’ve always loved books and stories and as a child I enjoyed making up stories in my head (usually rip-offs of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton). In my late twenties, I found myself craving an additional creative outlet and started to write a novel about an out of work actor. Although no one wanted to publish it, I was excited to discover I could actually write something with a beginning, middle and end. Completing it freed me up to write something new and not necessarily based on my own personal experience.

Between 2010 and 2012, I worked as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at the world-famous Tavistock Centre in North London. GIDS is the NHS highly specialised clinic for under-eighteens struggling with their gender identity. The young people who used the service inspired me to write a story from the point of view of a transgender teenager. This eventually became The Art of Being Normal. 

This information was taken from Lisa's website - Lisa Williamson Author


Lisa Williamson Books




Lisa Williamson Visit


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