Author events

Teachers and librarians: would you like me to come and talk to your students?


What’s in a visit?

I’m pretty flexible when it comes to events, and during a day’s visit, I’m happy to do a pick-and-mix of AUTHOR TALKS and WORKSHOPS to suit your needs.
Here’s what my main AUTHOR TALK and WORKSHOPS look like…

(One hour, suitable for any size group)
High-energy talk, with PPT, outlining the random places I get my inspiration from, which in turn can open students’ eyes to their OWN potential when it comes to creative writing, as well as stimulate an interest in reading for pleasure. As well as this, I touch on my initial struggles with reading as a child, which can strike a chord with reluctant/struggling readers. For older students, I also outline the realities of being an author, busting some common myths about what the job is all about!
The AUTHOR TALK lasts for around three-quarters of an hour, leaving time for a Q&A session with the students at the end.

(One hour, works best with class-sized groups, ie around 30)
Here’s a brief outline of the four I run…
– WORKSHOP 1: ‘BECOME YOUR OWN EDITOR’ – simple, easy-to-remember pointers to help children improve/edit their own writing.
– WORKSHOP 2: ‘HOW TO WRITE SUSPENSE’ – step-by-step tips to get edge and drama into a scene.
– WORKSHOP 3: ‘WW2 EVACUEE’ – based on the research I’ve done for evacuee novel ‘Catching Falling Stars’, this workshop gets students thinking and writing about the impact of the evacuee experience. (Downloadable classroom resource sheets are available for this novel on my Freebies page)
– WORKSHOP 4: ‘BRINGING HISTORICAL VOICES TO LIFE’ – based around my novel ‘Little Bird Flies’ (‘Sunday Times’ Children’s Book of the Week), this workshop gets students thinking about how to make a character from the past sound alive to a present-day reader. (Downloadable classroom resource sheets are available for this novel on my Freebies page)

Having a personally signed book from a visiting author can mean a lot to a student, and really engage them in reading. So during a visit – either directly after a TALK, or at some convenient point during the course of the day – ideally a short slot should be scheduled for a book signing (it’s also a good opportunity for any students too shy to ask a question in front of a large group to come chat!). Schools or libraries can either arrange for a local bookshop to come in with a selection of my books to sell, OR my various publishers can advise on alternative ways to order books.

Who do I talk to?

• AT PRIMARY SCHOOL LEVEL: Children aged 8-11 for my talk and workshops. As an example, I often I do one hour-long main author talk for Yrs 5&6 plus a slightly shorter main author talk for Yrs 3&4.

• AT SECONDARY SCHOOL LEVEL: Students aged 11-13.

Where do I go?

• I live in north London, so it’s relatively easy for me to travel to, well, lots of cities, towns and villages which are easily reached by train within the space of a day.

• For anywhere further afield, accommodation might be needed. (It can be worthwhile getting together with other schools/libraries in this instance, to share costs.)

Get in touch!

• For more details, please contact Authors Aloud UK at who arrange my visits and events.

Upcoming events…


Events which are marked *** are public events, ie anyone can come along! [More dates will be confirmed – keep checking in…]

Monday 11th: Christ The King Primary, Islington, London
Tuesday 12th: North Harringay Primary School, Wood Green, London
Wednesday 13th: Cheam Common Junior Academy, Surrey
Thursday 14th: Burleigh Primary School, Cheshunt
Thursday 14th: Duncombe School, Hertford

Friday 1st: Wee Write Festival, Glasgow
Monday 4th: Horn Park Primary School, Greenwich, London
Tuesday 5th: Woodland Academy, Flitwick, Bedfordshire
Wednesday 6th: Chestnuts Primary School, Tottenham, London
Thursday 7th: Grange Community Junior School, Farnborough
• Friday 8th: St Albans Girls School, St Albans
Wednesday 25th: Hornsey School For Girls, Crouch End, London
• Wednesday 27th: Bruce Castle, Tottenham, London ***

• tbc




Quotes from events

“Fantastic day with Karen. The children were very inspired by her Author Talks and the workshop had a real buzz about it. I have had a constant flood of children asking to borrow her books from the library… so lovely to see so much renewed enthusiasm for reading. Thanks so much, Karen!”
Claire Bavister, Librarian, Woodland Middle School Academy, Flitwick, Bedfordshire

“Karen is full of enthusiasm for getting children reading and is highly engaging. During her sessions at the school, she has read excerpts from her (and other authors’) books, run very well received writing workshops, held book-breaks to encourage small groups of children to consider a variety of books to read and offered great support through whole-school assemblies. She has been a beacon of support for reading for pleasure, helping to champion the school’s initiatives and suggesting more of her own. The children are always enthusiastic when she visits and describe her as ‘fun’, ‘friendly’ and ‘encouraging’.”
Tanya Efthymiou, Librarian, Chestnuts Primary School, London

“The girls loved Karen’s visit! She was so popular, I had so many positive comments afterwards and the books flew off the shelves! Karen was an engaging and enthusiastic speaker – the girls really warmed to her sense of fun and passion. Would highly recommend.”
Eleanor Parker, Librarian, St James Senior Girls’ School, London

“Karen’s books are very popular at our school – she has a big fan-base amongst our students! The Year 7 girls thought Karen was warm, funny and inspirational. After her talk, the McC shelf of the library was bare, as ALL her books had been borrowed! Thank you, Karen, for coming, and we hope to see you next year at Loreto!”
Ramona Sandbrook, Librarian, Loreto College, St Albans

“Since your visit, it’s been amazing to have the boys and girls stopping me in the corridors to talk about your visit or about the work they’ve done or the books they’re reading, usually independent of adult interference – it really tugs at my heart-strings. A kind of miracle has occurred and you played a major role in making it happen. May you continue to do that forever!”
Karima Davis, Secretary, Friends Of Calverton Primary School, Newham, South London

“The Year 3/4s of Upminster Juniors thoroughly enjoyed your talk and their teachers remarked on your ability to connect with the children. And here at the library we’ve been so inspired by your talk that we’re developing a short story competition – based on your book – as part of our 75th anniversary celebrations.”
Marian Marston, Upminster Library, Essex

“Just e-mailing to say a HUGE thanks for your visit. We were delighted today when one of our reluctant Year 8 readers told us she had read three of your books since then! She is now converted to Karen McCombie novels, and reading her way through the rest!”
Lesley, Librarian, Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School, Brentwood

“Karen provided a fascinating insight into how authors get ideas, which the children found highly entertaining. The children left the talk inspired, amused and with the tools to become budding authors themselves.”
Penny Casey, Librarian, Highgate Junior School

“Karen McCombie brought her world of writing alive to the Year 7 and 8 girls during her author visits as part of the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature. The girls immediately connected with her warm and humorous presentation. Her visit had such an impact that the girls have inundated their school libraries with requests for her books. Success!”
Fiona Hardcastle, Learning Centre Manager and Festival Co-ordinator, Dorcan Technology College

“We had the pleasure of taking Karen to a couple of local primary schools to talk about ‘You, Me and Thing: The Curse of the Jelly Babies’. Apart from being a potty Scot, she really has a way of connecting with her audience. I would recommend Karen to any school.”
Rob Welton, Events Coordinator, Jarrold’s Books, Norwich