This is a very belated blog about my trip earlier this year to Montreal. I have been so busy with writing deadlines I haven’t had a chance to write about what I have been doing.  I wanted to share this because I made a note of some of the interesting questions I was asked. I will be taking note of unusual questions during the Arena 13 tour and will report those.

The Arena tour starts next week with school visits in Lancashire and then the following two weeks I am in Kent and then Manchester area. I had a book signing at Lancaster Cornmarket and King Street onSaturday 13 and in Carlisle on the 20th(1pm).  Hope to see some of you there.

The first day of the tour in Montreal began in -15 flumes of snow. After 15 minutes outside my nose was starting to freeze so luckily we were being chauffeured by Guy and Nicholas from Bayard Jeunesse. They treated us (me and my publicist who had just arrived from a New Zealand summer and was struggling to adjust to minus temperatures) to a hearty Montreal lunch (and a glass of red wine, I knew it was going to be a good tour ) at St Hupert.  From there we went to the first school of the tour, Poly-Jeunesse High School in Laval, to an audience of at least 500 children in total. I answered questions and Nicholas translated some very good ones. One question I haven’t been asked before “if I lived in the world of my books would I be more John or more Tom”. I had to think about this; it would be easier to be John, but Tom would be more fun and I would get to be young again. I would have more life ahead of me but how long would I live?

The next day started with a press conference in a very atmospheric bar which is normally the venue for heavy metal bands. Here I was asked questions by journalists and librarians again translated by Nicholas. I then had an audience with a very enthusiastic team at Bayard followed by a delicious middle eastern picnic, inside of course as outside were mounds of snow.  

In the warmth of libre Barbar  in Point Claire village I met with visiting children from Ecole Marguerite-Bourgeoys. They were good questions about the series and my inspiration and of course the film. I was very impressed with their English, I am not sure how they coped with my Lancashire accent. This was a first, Benjamin played a card trick, five of hearts was my card.  This is the first time I was asked if I am a seventh son – I am not, but I do have a few brothers.

We had the afternoon to explore Montreal which we did as much as the cold would allow although I must admit I spent more time underground in the shopping centre than above. It reminded me of being in Singapore although there I am avoiding the heat.

On Thursday I had an audience with 300 children at Frontanec library. As usual for this tour the questions were challenging and thoughtful and showed that the children had thought about the visit. Nicholas and I were getting good at the translation act - he even managed to answer a couple of questions without my help.

Was I ever locked in a cellar?  Good question. Maybe I should have been but I never was of course. This is though what featured in my recurring dream.

I had an interview with a librarian for Montreal. She asked if I was inspired by the children I encounter in my school visits. Of course I am, by their energy and enthusiasm and I have sometimes used their names. But I was reminded of the girl who told me once at a school in England that when it goes dark her mother turned the mirrors to the wall. I was already using the idea of mirrors and scryingbut this cemented the idea in my head. I never got to talk to her properly but she was from the Pendle area so perhaps there are many witches watching through their mirrors.

The week in Montreal ended with a special screening of Seventh Son, in French. I had already seen it in English in Paris in December so this was a new experience.  You can read my review of Seventh Son in a previous blog.

I had a great tour in Montreal courtesy of Bayard Jeunesse and I would love to return, in summer next time!