IN THE SHOES OF… Daniel Ingram-Brown


What's life like in someone else's shoes? This month Deputy Editor Françoise Price invites author Daniel Ingram-Brown to tell us about his day.

Daniel Ingram-Brown



My alarm blares. It’s too early. I don’t move.


My wife rubs my back. This gentle act turns into a shove. I must be in the bathroom before my son rises for college. The cat mews. “I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” I mutter, scooping his food into his bowl.


The family's one-eyed cat and (below) Bearded Dragon

I’m narrating my day in my head as I prepare breakfast. I’m writing an article for SCBWI – a chronicle of my day. I bank details as they occur. I’ll talk about my wife shoving me, and the cat.




I’m driving to Leeds. The sky is smooth, pale grey. The morning light lifts my spirit. I take a deep breath of cool air.


I’m on my way to a primary school in Armley, inner-city Leeds. I haven’t visited a school for a while; I’ve been focused on writing my PhD thesis. A school visit demands a very different sort of energy. My confidence grows as I practise the start of my assembly presentation.


I hit the rush hour traffic. I’m glad I don’t do this every day.




I arrive at the school.


“I’m here for the author visit.”


The gate slides open.


Where do I park? A space has been left for me. There it is.


I carry a speaker, roller banners and a rucksack into the reception area.


Parents queue, staff sign in, receptionists scurry.


I tap in my name on the screen. Can I remember my car registration?


I shake hands with teacher. Smile. We chat. I set up.




The children file into the hall. One hundred and fifty in total. They look expectant, bright eyed, flashes of smiles, whispers. I have the impulse to talk to them, but I’m aware they’ve probably been told to file in silently. I wait, nervously. When they’re seated, I look for a signal from the teacher. Is she going to introduce me? She stands at the back of the hall.

'The children file into the hall… They look expectant, bright eyed, flashes of smiles, whispers'


Right then.


I start speaking. “Hello, I’m Dan. I’m an author and theatre maker…”


I give a brief synopsis of The Firebird Chronicles and Bea’s Witch. I ask the children plot-related questions. How would they feel if they woke up with no memory? What would they do? They tell me they would be angry, confused, that they would look for clues.


I read a section from Bea’s Witch. This is my favourite part of an assembly. I deliberately speak to specific children, shifting my gaze as the story ebbs and flows. I lower my voice. I emphasise certain phrases. I know I have their attention. I can feel the energy in the room.


Afterwards I show the page from my writing journal where this section of the story is scribbled. I ask if it looks neat and tidy. I talk about editing. I tell the children that their first drafts don’t need to be good, that they can improve their stories as they work on them.


When I ask if any of the children have questions, lots of hands shoot up. I enjoy answering questions. I don’t feel the same pressure as having to learn a script. I go with the flow. Even when the children throw curve balls (What car do you drive? Are you famous? Why are you bald?), I have fun answering. I speak to the child who has asked the question and try to find a connection.




I finish the assembly. I’ve overrun the scheduled time.




I am in a class. A big roller banner stands at the front with an outline of a body on it, “Make a Monster” written above. I welcome the children to the “Spectre Studio” and say we’re going to create a ghost. I tell them we can come up with anything, that there are no wrong answers. 

The only rule, I say, is that we must agree with one another. If somebody says the ghost is a little ghost hiding under a table – I crouch and point under one of the tables and the children bend down to look – we can’t then say that it’s a giant ghost. I ask the children to use their senses. What will our ghost sound like, smell like, what would it feel like if we touched it?

I welcome the children to the “Spectre Studio” and say we’re going to create a ghost 

Children speak out their ideas, co-creating the story, and the teacher scribes on Post-it Notes, sticking them to the roller banner. Our ghost sounds like the patter of rain. It smells like wilting flowers. It has a splatter of blood around its mouth.

'Children co-create the story, and the teacher scribes on Post-it Notes, sticking them to the roller banner'

“I’ve heard you’re expert ghost hunters,” I say. “What’s your ghost hunting team name?”


“The Ghost Killers,” one child suggests.


The children choose what job they have. Scientist, tracker, map maker. They write a list of all the things they need to take when they go ghost hunting.

'The children choose what job they have' 

We decide that this ghost lives in a museum of ancient artefacts. The children write a report of what’s found there. Broken glass. Gold tablets inscribed in an ancient language. The statue of a dog with its teeth bared. I ask questions to deepen the descriptions.


The teacher asks me why we don’t teach this way all the time.


The classroom is quiet apart from the sound of pencils moving across paper.


I ask the children if they would like to know what the ghost is thinking. They nod.


I tell them I’m going to speak as the ghost.


I take my time, slowly looking around the class.


“I am scared and alone. Once, I was a person, just like you, but now look what I’ve become. When I reach out for help, people scream, run away or try to banish me.” I ask if they will help me.


I step out of the ghost, and we talk about how they feel. Depressed, one child says. Another is confused, a third sad. Some want to help the ghost. Others says they don’t trust it.


I ask the children to step into the ghost’s shoes and write a letter to our ghost hunting team, to tell us its story.




I run a second workshop with another class. Their ghost is completely different. The setting is different. I tell the children this is one of the amazing things about stories – that each story can be unique.

'I run a second workshop with another class'



I sit in the local café and have lunch. Bliss. I listen to the news on the radio.




I run a third workshop with a new class. My voice is getting hoarse.




I’m driving home, tired but content.



Back in Daniel's office and writing room

Back in my office and writing room. I receive an email from the teacher. More children want to buy books at tomorrow’s book signing than expected. Please make sure I bring enough.




After dinner I head to the local theatre. I need to set up for an evening rehearsal. I’m directing a pantomime – Goldilocks and the Three Bears.


But that’s another story…


*Header image by Shannon Ell & Tita Berredo; 
All other images courtesy of Daniel Ingram-Brown


Daniel Ingram-Brown is an award-winning author from Yorkshire. He lives in a house built from the stones of a ruined castle with his wife, son, their bearded dragon and one-eyed cat.
Daniel is the author of Bea’s Witch: A ghostly coming-of-age story and The Firebird Chronicles trilogy (Collective Ink Books). He has a masters in Creative Writing and Drama in Education, is part of the Story Maker’s Company, and Co-Artistic Director of Suitcase and Spectacles Children’s Theatre.

Find him on social media:
X @dibrownauthor
Instagram: @dibrownauthor


Françoise Price is Deputy Editor of Words & Pictures magazine. Contact
Find her on Twitter (X) and Instagram


Shannon Ell is Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Contact them at

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and Art Director of Words & Pictures. Contact her at


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