Information for Schools 2022-23
‘One of our foremost writers for young people.’ The Irish Times, March 2015
Since the publication of the internationally multi-award-winning Taking Flight (Dublin, Little Island) in 2010, Sheena Wilkinson has established herself as one of the most acclaimed Irish writers for young people. In 2012 Sheena was granted a Major Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, its highest award, given to artists of national and international importance. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 she was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s literature award.
Her seventh novel, Star by Star, shortlisted for the Irish Books Awards, winner of the CBI Honour Award for Fiction and one of only five books designated by Booktrust as a ‘Future Classic’ in their 2018 School Library Pack, was published to commemorate the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act (‘Pitch-perfect’: The Irish Times; ‘A brilliant and bold novel’: Fallen Star Stories). It is publisher Little Island’s best-selling book ever, selling over 25,000 copies. Her most recent novel Hope against Hope, set in a cross-community girls’ hostel against the background of Irish partition in 1921, was described in the Belfast Telegraph as showing ‘a formidable narrative gift and an acute sense of historical justice.’ It too was shortlisted for both the Irish Book Awards and the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards.
Many of Sheena’s books have won awards. Taking Flight won two CBI awards (The Honour Award for Fiction and the Children’s Choice Award); a White Raven Award from the International Youth Library; an IBBY Honour Listing, and it was shortlisted for the Reading Association of Ireland Awards 2011. The follow-up Grounded also won two CBI awards, including the overall Book of the Year, and like its predecessor the Children’s Choice award. Grounded was also shortlisted for the Reading Association of Ireland Awards 2013. Her middle grade novel, Too Many Ponies, was also shortlisted for the CBI Awards. Her novels have sold to Canada, Australia, South Korea, Turkey, Latvia and Slovenia. Sheena has also won many awards for short stories, and has contributed stories to The Great War, Stories Inspired by Objects from the First World War (Walker, 2014) and Female Lines (New Island, 2017). Her first novel for adults, Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau, will be published by Harper Collins Ireland in March 2023.
Sheena travels extensively meeting readers and is a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. She tutors regularly for Arvon and teaches creative writing on the M Phil in Children’s Literature at Trinity College Dublin. She delivers talks and workshops in schools, libraries, prisons, young offenders’ centres, festivals and community settings.
Sheena lives in Mid-Ulster where she enjoys exploring the Sperrins and Lough Neagh with her two dogs.
Sheena is a popular and regular visitor to schools and libraries in Ireland and the UK. A member of Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools Scheme, she is available for one-off author visits or longer residencies. Please contact Poetry Ireland for details of their funding. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
She can do an author talk with Q and A, a writing workshop, or a reading group session with pupils who have read one of her books. With nineteen years’ experience as a secondary school teacher in a previous life, she is comfortable with all age groups.
Sheena is happy to speak to large groups in assembly halls, or smaller groups in libraries or classrooms. She can adapt her talk to all age groups from KS2 to sixth form, and is happy to liaise with individual teachers and librarians to ensure her visit enhances pupils’ current schemes of work. Her standard author talk is centered round the process of writing, the importance of reading, and what makes a good story. While she naturally draws on her own experience, the talk is designed to appeal to readers unfamiliar with her work as well as those who have read her novels. She is also happy to do history-focused talks, drawing on her historical fiction of the early 20th century, with particular emphasis on cultural identity and feminism. She is especially happy to meet classes who have read or studied one of the novels and can deliver a more in-depth talk focused on that one title.
A popular session is the Masterclass, where Sheena discusses some of the key ingredients of a good story, drawing on her own practice as illustration. In December 2017, as part of a Shared Education project, she delivered such a session to over 100 Year 11 pupils from four schools. This session is particularly relevant to pupils preparing for the GCSE English Language creative writing.
Sheena can facilitate one-off workshops or longer residencies. Please contact her to discuss your class’s individual needs. Please note that a writing workshop is only possible with small numbers – maximum of 15. If you wish to engage larger numbers, please consider the Author Talk or Masterclass.
Sheena can deliver staff development on the teaching of creative writing, on which subject she contributed to the English PGCE at Queen’s University for several years.
She also offers workshops on academic writing to sixth form students. Within the UK, these are funded entirely by the Royal Literary Fund and so are free to the school. Contact Sheena directly for more details about the RLF Bridge Project.
Sheena does not view school visits as commercial opportunities, and does not bring books to sell. However, if a school has a tradition of selling books at author visits, and wishes to liaise with a local bookseller to provide copies, she is more than happy to sign them.
At this time, many schools are more comfortable organising online visits. Sheena is experienced at running online workshops and is happy to join you for an online school visit, along the lines of the sessions outlined above, amended to suit your needs and circumstances. Please note that online visits are charged at the same rate as onsite visits as they involve the same amount of commitment and preparation.
Fees (in line with Society of Authors Guidelines)
£150/ €150 for one session (one hour)
Please note that if you wish me to speak for a shorter time, in line with timetable constraints, the session will still be charged at this rate.
£250/€ 250 for one morning/afternoon (two sessions)
£350/€ 350 for whole day (three sessions)
Don’t forget that Poetry Ireland can help with funding for certain types of visit.
Timings are negotiable, depending on timetable constraints.
Mileage/travel is payable at 0.45 per mile.