The convenience of eavesdropping

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 4: Aggie The shop was narrow, but deceptively deep; Aggie's counter lay at the far end, through a dusty maze of ancient display cabinets. A gas-lamp burned in the depths, barely illuminating the cave. Aggie's voice dropped low and continued speaking, picking up the conversation from which it... Continue Reading →

Creating a villain

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 3: The Devil's Lads Halfway across the river Tosher nudged Billy again."Look out," he muttered, and this time there was no humour in his voice. "Here comes trouble."A rabble of boys and young men was striding along the pavement towards them, spread out from the parapet to the... Continue Reading →

A life of grime

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 2: The Silver Spoon The journey down was, if anything, more dangerous than the journey up. Flues did not exist in isolation: they ran up the backbone of the house like a river with many tributaries, the flues from three or four different fireplaces all merging together as... Continue Reading →

Begin at the beginning

'Out of the Smoke' Author's Commentary Chapter 1: Up, Up, Up "Get in there!"Gerard tightened the rope around Billy's ankle with a sharp tug and shoved him towards the sheet-draped fireplace. Billy stumbled and almost fell, but he bit back the retort that came all too easily to his lips. It wasn't worth arguing with... Continue Reading →

Creating a Character

Characters are the most important part of any story - without your characters, there is no story! Use the resources on this page to build your own character, and start to think about their strengths and flaws! Download and print out this worksheet to help you plan your character. Appearance Ask yourself some questions: What... Continue Reading →

Call the Poor – Part 2

An 'Out of the Smoke' Short Story Part 2 Part 1 - Part 2 The group trudged through the darkened streets, heads bent low against a freezing wind that seemed to have come straight from the pole. Robert kept half an eye on Clara, but he soon realised he need not have worried about her:... Continue Reading →

Call the Poor – Part 1

An 'Out of the Smoke' Short Story Part 1 - Part 2 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.... Continue Reading →

The Museum of Everything

What makes the perfect classroom? Ask twenty different teachers and they will give you twenty different answers. Some will prioritise seating; others, resources; my favourite kind of teacher will favour a well-stocked class library (of course!). But when it comes right down to it, all their answers will point in the same direction: the perfect... Continue Reading →

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