Writer returns home to inspire Cramlington students


An award-winning writer has returned to his native Northumberland to inspire students at Cramlington Learning Village with his own story.

Piers Torday grew up in a family of writers and surrounded by books. His mother ran a bookshop in Hexham and wrote about gardening, cookery and local history; his grandfather was a racing journalist who wrote hundreds of letters to his children and grand-children, and his father – after a lifetime in business – wrote his first book in 2008 when he was 59.

This, Piers said, was his inspiration to become a writer. Up until then he had worked in the theatre and television but five years and 17 drafts later his first children’s book, The Last Wild, was published. He is now working on the screenplay.

Piers has written four books for children and, after his father’s death in 2013, he completed his unfinished novel, a political thriller for adults called The Death of an Owl. It was published in 2016, the same year as Piers’ latest book – There May Be A Castle – appeared to critical acclaim.

He told students about the power of stories to change the way we view the world, and how it is possible to follow a career in writing. “I believe it is really important for children to see people making a living from making stories,” he said.

Piers is the latest in a long line of distinguished children’s writers to visit Cramlington Learning Village. His audience included Year 7 students and Year 5 and 6 children from Eastlea and Shanklea schools.

Cramlington Learning Village Librarian Eileen Armstrong said: “We believe it is really valuable for the students – many of whom are familiar with writers’ work – to hear the stories behind the stories and also the reason why they decided to do what they do.

“Fiction for young people is as popular as ever and hearing first-hand from the authors of some of our students’ favourite books will only further encourage them to continue exploring books and write their own stories.”

Despite Piers’ busy career – his stage adaptation of John Masefield’s classic story The Box of Delights opens next month – he said he is always happy to return to the county of his birth: “I come back as often as I possibly can. Northumberland remains very unspoiled but I am so glad to see the development of Newcastle and the North East that has happened over the last twenty years. I hope there is more to come.”