I was privileged to experience a first at my Crime Writing teaching day in Barnstaple on Saturday, and a most uplifting one at that.
A member of the group was a young person, and by that I mean very young - 14 years old, in fact.
In the days before the session, I got a call from one of the librarians asking if it would be all right if she came along. Given the potentially adult nature of the crime theme, it was understandable her parents were concerned.
As I don't tend to do the really nasty crime stuff - the gory details of crimes, all the kind of thing - I said it would be fine. I did though have a few amused imaginings of what people thought one of my crime writing classes might have been like.
Perhaps me entering by kicking in the door, laying down some covering fire from my shooters, yelling every profanity known to man (plus a few others), then doing a bit of robbing and pillaging to source some cash for my hard drugs and whores habit?!
(Perhaps I'll keep that in mind for another course, as a little surprise!)
But no such drama, it was all relatively genteel. Not only was she allowed to come by her kind parents, I thought we should encourage her and it was great to have her along. All too much is talked about "young people nowadays" with a glum look and sour tone etc., but when you meet a teenager who's already decided she wants to be an author, and is busily going about doing so, how can you not have faith in the future?
It's particularly impressive when I consider that I never had any real idea I wanted to be a writer, and only fell into it when I hit my mid-thirties.
Maybe I'm just a late developer. Don't respond to that! But it was remarked upon on Saturday that my inner child was very healthy, active, and apparent from the way I teach. It's true, I just don't like to do things straightforwardly. There's always a more entertaining way.
Anyway, thanks to all who came along, for making it such an enjoyable session. Good luck with your writing, and don't forget the golden rule - that anything that gets published, I expect 10 per cent of the take!
And in particular, may I say good luck to Rosa, who touched my feelings by being the youngest ever student in a Hall crime writing class.
Not only that, but she did so with calm and charm in what must have been an intimidating atmosphere; all those strange grown-ups she'd never met before, not least the particularly odd man who was trying to do the teaching.