Amsterdam view: high school research
Posted on October 14, 2010
It was a almost like a trip down memory lane. I had to report at school, at 12 sharp. High school, that is.
Now I have been at high schools quite a bit these past years. It comes with the territory: children’s book writers go out for reading and signing sessions at schools. It’s fun and it creates an audience, it sells books. I often combine a reading session with a workshop creative writing. It’s amazing how much talent there is out there! After spending a couple of hours with kids I usually head home tired but totally replenished. My inspiration cup filled to the brim with intriguing protagonists and unexpected plot twists, and with the strongest urge to write, write and write.
This time it was different. For my new YA thriller I needed to reacquaint myself with the interaction between student and teacher. It’s been a while since I experienced that myself. I already had contact with this – according to my son and his friends – awesome science teacher. He helped me out before, resurfacing science knowledge that kind of resided in my brain, but seemed somehow beyond recall. I asked him if I could attend one of his lessons and he kindly agreed.
So, yesterday at 12 sharp I reported at school and I was assigned a seat somewhere in the back of the room. It was a lesson about density and it was the most visual lesson I have ever had. I loved every minute of it. The teacher was bright and witty, patient but strict. He had ice sink in ethanol, copper float on quicksilver, and he had his class hang on his every word. His class provided me with the high school lingua franca, with the behavioral ins and outs of present-day students. And it revived my knowledge of science, my favorite subject when I was in high school.
After class we spent over an hour talking about teaching, about science and literature. We talked about my thriller. He had me think about the feasibility of my protagonist running around with dry ice bombs – not! – to keep the villains of his back, and he showed me his spud gun in stead. He uses it for his lessons velocity, but I saw much more potential.
I couldn’t get home quickly enough and get back to my manuscript. My inspiration cup is, again, filled to the brim. Thanks to him, this thriller will rock, too. I can feel it in my bones. I will not reveal his name, yet: you will all meet him in due time. He secured himself a strong spot in the book!