Bestselling author P.G. Bell meets three thousand fans in three days in Delhi.
The thing I like best about writing the Train to Impossible Places series is the opportunity to take readers on journeys to new and exciting worlds. Much to my surprise, the books took me on a much more literal adventure last month when HarperCollins India (who distribute Usborne’s books on the sub-continent) invited me to speak to young readers in Delhi.
I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I’d done school tours before but never overseas, and the itinerary looked brutal – meeting three thousand children at ten events across seven schools in just three days! I normally only do two events a day and with smaller groups than I’d be facing in Delhi, so this felt like quite a challenge.
But I was in safe hands from the moment I landed. Nisha Singh from HarperCollins was with me every day alongside Amit Sarin, the owner of local bookshop Kool Skool. They were my guardian angels throughout the tour, ferrying me from one event to another in the face of smog, storms and roadworks.
The thing I like best about writing is the opportunity to take readers on journeys to new and exciting worlds. P.G. Bell
The schools all gave us a wonderful welcome. At our first stop in the Shri Ram school in Aravali I was invited to join the teachers in lighting a ceremonial lamp, representing the light of knowledge. The pupils were certainly shining bright. Despite there being a crowd of 700 – by far the largest group I’ve ever spoken to – they were engaged, enthusiastic and bursting with so many great ideas and questions that they made the event feel almost effortless.
P.G. Bell signing copies of The Train to Impossible Places at Pathways international school
It was a pattern repeated at every school we visited, and I’m extremely grateful to all the children and teachers who made those three days such an exciting experience. (My favourite question came from a boy at the Kunskapsskolan international school in Gurgaon, who wanted to know how I manage my time. He was clearly making plans for his own future, which I can only hope will be more organised than mine.)
This tour was also a striking demonstration of the importance of school libraries which, unlike in the UK, are a legal requirement in India. Some of the library spaces were incredible, especially the one at Pathways international school which was the size of a small sports hall. Every school on the tour was doing its bit to champion reading for pleasure, led by really passionate librarians and teachers, and it was clear what a tremendous difference this made to the children. They were all so eager to talk about their own reading experiences.
P.G. Bell lighting a ceremonial lamp at Shri Ram school
P.G. Bell's event at at Shri Ram school
After a string of big school events, the tour wrapped up with a more relaxed session at Kool Skool with about a dozen children and their parents in attendance. It was the perfect end to my trip, and a great opportunity to get to know some of my readers better. There was just time for a cup of chai before heading back to the hotel to pack for my flight home.
Delhi is such an exciting city, and I feel very privileged to have visited. Even though I only got to glimpse a tiny portion of it, I really hope I’ll be back one day. Until then, I’d like to thank Nisha and Amit for taking such good care of me, and all the children, librarians and teachers who made me feel so welcome. This is a trip I’ll remember fondly for a long, long time.
Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2019 Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2019 Shortlisted for the IBW Book Awards 2019 All aboard for a magical journey... When Suzy hears a strange rattling noise in the middle of the night, she creeps downstairs to find a train roaring through her house. But this is no ordinary train. This is the magical delivery express for The Union of Impossible Places. Whisked onboard by a troll boy called Wilmot, Suzy's world is turned upside down when she's given the job of delivering a cursed package to the fearsome sorceress, Lady Crepuscula. Except when the mysterious package begs not to be delivered, Suzy discovers the fate of the Impossible Places might just be in her hands...
Join Suzy for her highly-anticipated second journey in The Great Brain Robbery, the sequel to the Waterstones Children's Book Prize-shortlisted The Train to Impossible Places. Suzy can't wait to return to the Union of Impossible Places on the Impossible Postal Express. But when she arrives, she overhears a dastardly plan to destroy Trollville from a shadowy and unexpected villain. Suzy and her friends must race from magical cloud-worlds to secret caverns to catch the culprit, before Trollville comes crashing down…
P.G. Bell, author of The Train to Impossible Places