My story, Elsie’s Eternal Eden, which was published in The Crazy Oik magazine (The Penniless Press, 2012) proved to be a good choice for vocabulary building activities in my recent Creative Writing workshop with 12-13 year old pupils. Unlike my usual scheduled Creative Writing workshops, I did a couple of recent sessions in their English classes, to tie in with what they’ve been studying as part of their curriculum. I chose to focus on the description of the otherworldly creature in my story, when it first appears to the protagonist, Elsie. The students drew a picture of how they imagined it as I read the paragraph, exploring words such as ‘hessian’ and ‘gnarled’… part of the reason why I found that teaching phonics to Japanese children (when I taught English in Japan) didn’t work well!
Years ago, feedback for Elsie’s Eternal Eden was mixed. Some felt that the ending was too depressing. Some wanted the story to be more horror than magical realism. Of course, it is what it is, and published as I originally intended it. I was pleased that the majority of the students agreed, with only 3 voting that it should have been a horror.
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