YOUNG literature lovers enjoyed talks from two top authors yesterday.

Helen Dennis spoke to Year 8 pupils at Highworth Warneford School, while Sarah Mussi entertained Swindon Academy students from Years 7, 8, and 9.

Helen taught creative writing workshops after discussing what inspired her to write the River Of Ink series, while Sarah tailored her talks to each year group.

Year 7 and 8 were enthralled by a discussion of Sarah’s fantasy novels and Year 9 pupils engaged in a lively debate about what they would do in a life-or-death situation similar to the protagonist in Sarah’s young adult novel Siege.

Both authors stayed at the schools throughout the day to chat to pupils and sign books.

Helen said: “It’s great to be part of such a fantastic festival, the kids were lovely and the librarians have been so supportive.

“You can tell that the pupils have been encouraged to love books and events like these that make books accessible and make kids think about where ideas come from have such a nice atmosphere.

“There’s no such thing as a reluctant reader, you just have to find the right book for them.

“I’m always reading as much as I can and trying to find the ordinary in the extraordinary.”

Fans Millie Davies and Caitlyn Oakley-Jones had a great time.

Millie said: “This has been the highlight of the festival so far, I’m obsessed with her books.”

Caitlyn said: “Her books are amazing, I really enjoyed it, I love anything to do with books and authors.”

Literacy coordinator at Highworth Warneford School Andrew Barton said: "This festival is always a wonderfully extraordinary week for schools and their pupils.

"As a teacher, seeing students enthused and excited by author visits and competitive events is one of the highlights of the job.

"The true reflection of the success of the festival is in the English lessons that follow, where students clamour to create pieces of work based on the ideas and skills that they have been exposed to in these sessions."

Sarash Mussi’s Year 9 talk provoked plenty of thoughtful discussions about a difficult subject.

Her novel Siege follows two teenagers during a school shooting in a dystopian society and Sarah was keen to discover how her audience would tackle the ethical dilemmas that they face.

Many students admitted that they would put their own survival as a priority, while others revealed that they would selflessly risk their lives to save their classmates.

Sarah said: “It’s a writer’s job to keep raising these questions, the point of young adult literature is to challenge.

“We had quite a range of responses, which was interesting.

“Teenagers are very thoughtful and are undervalued by society.

“They deal with difficult problems and have something to say, we just have to give them a chance to let them have their say.”

Librarian Sarah Compton said: “I’m really proud of them, it was a fascinating debate and the students really got involved.”