"We've had good author visits before, but Joe Craig just took author talks to a whole new level. It was absolutely electrifying." - Secondary School Librarian
"All the hard work and preparation organising the day certainly paid off after seeing the students so completely engaged and inspired by what I have to admit is one of the best author's talks I have ever seen." - Secondary School Library Manager
"Pure brilliance and great entertainment." - Assistant Head Teacher
I'm best known for my Jimmy Coates novels: action thrillers aimed at the 8-13 age group, particularly suitable for kids who might not usually read much...
"Few books have the power to drag you away from your Xbox or Wii, but I've seen the Jimmy Coates series in action - Super Mario is no match for this schoolboy assassin." The Independent, 50 Best Summer Reads
As well as writing novels I'm a screenwriter, working on movies for some major Hollywood producers.
In my events my aim is to inspire creativity, story-writing and reading, but of course to entertain at the same time.
Since my first book came out, in 2005, I've visited hundreds of schools, speaking to over 100,000 kids. Before that I studied Philosophy at Cambridge University then worked as a musician and songwriter.
Most of my work is with Years 5, 6, 7 and 8, but audiences range from Year 4 all the way up to Sixth Formers and adults. I also have plenty of experience handling a family audience (for example, at prize-givings and festivals), with a complete mix of ages.
My sessions are high-energy and highly interactive, to re-ignite the imagination in the adults and to let the children loose with their wackiest (and most brilliant) story ideas. It's a lot of fun, but the goal is that it also inspires students to see reading and writing in a whole new light, while giving them the basic tools to come up with wonderful and original stories themselves.
Each session is different. I can adapt to suit your requirements, and will always follow the audience’s interests. Topics covered usually include how to come up with ideas, how to develop an initial idea into a story, and how a story is constructed. I always make time for questions, and encourage follow-up contact through my website if the students have more to ask me, or want to share some of their writing.
As well talks on writing and my books, I run sessions on screenwriting, on songwriting and, occasionally, on philosophy.
What else do teachers and librarians say about my visits?
"When Joe visited my school, he spoke to all of Year 7 about writing stories and he had them laughing helplessly but also, and more importantly, inspired." - Secondary School Librarian, UK
"It was a fantastic afternoon - I think it will be a very memorable event for all our pupils. Even I came home raving about the stories you improvised on the spot to my husband - what a laugh! Thank you so much for your time and for genuinely inspiring our pupils." - English teacher, prep school
"Joe Craig's workshops were completely different from any we've had before: much more fun and inter-active." - Secondary School LRC Manager
"Joe, thanks for being a fabulous entertainer today. The whole school was buzzing and students from the first group had already told their friends and staff how good you were before the end of lunch. All staff who saw you said how good you were and many envied your ability to hold the students transfixed with your storytelling. Thanks again for making today such a great success." - Secondary School Librarian
"The day was 'awesome' and 'the best day ever' according to the kids. I am always aware that for some, Thursday will be one of the few school days that will ever be remembered. Thank-you for giving such good school memories." - Secondary School Librarian
"The most successful author visit we have had. I've never seen the pupils so enthusiastic!" - Head of English, Secondary School
"An amazing day – the children are constantly talking about you and your books. A really inspirational day." - Head, Junior School
"You really gave the kids a great sense of what it is like to be an author. I believe you showed the students, especially the boys, the power and pleasures of the written word...
"Thank you for inspiring my students to read and write with a purpose. It is difficult to express the impact your initial response and subsequent conversations have had on my class and our school as a whole. There is a “buzz” about the power of the written word... For this, I would like to thank you. Your honesty and willingness to engage with us has been one of the greatest successes of this year...
I know you have inspired students here and that this experience is something we will all remember for years to come. " - 8th Grade teacher, Texas, USA
"I have been at [this school] 15 years and before that used to advise at Primary Schools, booking authors, poets and storytellers. It was a privilege to have you so early in your career. I believe that your personality and talent mean that you are destined for greater things. It felt like the time when Benjamin Zephaniah did an intimate session in the library of a [previous] school...
"...Thank you for your enthusiasm, sense of fun and flexibility. You were a hit on so many levels, with so many people here." - Secondary School Librarian
"Apart from the hilarious joys of incorporating alien invasions, tooth fairies and blueberry pies into plot lines, the children learned about the process of putting together a novel and the importance of pace and structure in story-telling. Once again, many, many thanks for making this event such an inspiring, entertaining and informative experience for us. We hope you enjoyed the visit as much as we did." - Secondary School Librarian
"Thank you so much for everything you did... The response from the schools has been so positive and they want you back!! You are a real inspiration and not just to the kids... I always pinch some of your ideas too." - Schools Library Service
"The children had such a great time, and I haven’t yet stopped receiving complimentary comments on your visit. The boys all said that they really enjoyed meeting you and that you were the best author they had met. Even the staff (who profess to be above such things) commented on just how fun and entertaining your talk was." - Secondary School Librarian
"What a fantastic afternoon we spent with Joe Craig! The children had whipped themselves up into a small frenzy for his arrival and when they finally met him, I was slightly concerned he would be mobbed! The man couldn't have been more popular… All in all, we've been gripped by 'Joe fever'. The kids are reading his books in the playground, during lessons (when, I might add, they're supposed to be doing other stuff!) and everything they write in English at the moment seems to owe something to his books..." - Head of English, Primary School
"Thank you for an absolutely wonderful day yesterday! The girls are buzzing. It was great to have you here and I know they enjoyed every bit of it… The pictures were not as good as I would have liked...you were moving too fast!" - Secondary School English Teacher
"Your visit had quite an effect on the Year 8s. At the parents' evening that took place a few weeks later several parents commented on how their children (mostly boys) had suddently started reading at home of their own volition. Job well done sir!" - Assistant Headteacher
“We brought our disengaged/disenchanted readers. Joe kept them enthralled the whole session. It was great to see a large group of year 9 boys mesmerised by an author they clearly admire. He was a wonderful orator and kept it fun as well as informative." - English Teacher
What else do you need to know?
I’m based in London but I’m willing to travel anywhere. (I’ve run workshops in the USA, China, Australia and have more events in the Far-East next year.) My fee is based on a standard rate, but you will need to pay travel expenses if you’re outside London, and provide overnight accommodation if I can’t get to you and home again in a single day. I usually do two sessions in any one day, but I like large audiences, so you can pack as many students into those sessions as you like. And I am, of course, flexible.
If you decide you’d like a visit from me, you will always be sent a comprehensive information pack, and I always have time for a chat on the phone if you need to discuss any aspect of having an author visit.
Finally, here's a little clip of me talking about Jimmy Coates: Blackout...
...and if you like that, there are plenty of other youtube clips of me, so have a browse.
Whichever author you book for your event, you might like a piece I wrote a few years ago about the best and worst of author school visits:
Finally, some more recent feedback about my events
"Joe was fabulous, very full on and completely engaging! He went down a storm and I have promised to invite him back so that the Year 8s don't miss out. We had several Year 7s at the Open evening last night with younger siblings, telling everyone how completely awesome Joe was and how he could just come up with incredible stories off the top of his head!" - Secondary School English Teacher
“I thought I might be bored but it was really good fun. I liked it when he made up the story about the evil hamster!” - Tessa, Yr 7 student
Each Jimmy Coates book is a self-contained thriller, so you can read them in any order, but if you DO read them in order there is of course a story arc than runs through the series.