25th April 2019 by

How to write a female villain? The GLARE workshop at the Bournville BookFest 2019

You can download a booklet with writing tips and tricks here: How_to_write_a_female_villain

On Saturday, March 23, 2019, on a beautiful spring day, the GLARE team, Dr Anna Čermáková and Professor Michaela Mahlberg, enjoyed running a workshop for aspiring young authors: ‘How to write a female villain’ at the Bournville Bookfest. The workshop took place in the inspiring environment of the Blue Coat School library in Harborne. About 20 participants worked eagerly on their stories. The youngest one was only six years old –  and what a writer he was!

The start of the workshop was a bit unexpected. In fact, it was delayed! The reason was the massive queue of fans waiting to have copies of books signed by Robin Stevens. Just before our workshop, the famous children’s book author introduced her eighth book in the Murder Most Unladylike Series to the festival audience. In spite of the delay though, the timing of Robin’s talk and our workshop was perfectly organised by the BookFest team.


In her session, Robin talked about the main elements that make a mystery book – settings, clues and suspects. In our workshop, we concentrated on how fictional characters are created. To warm up, the children made faces to look like a villain, we also tried walking like villains, talked about our favourite villains and we looked at Dolores Umbridge as an example of a female villain.

The children also had the opportunity to try out the CLiC software to explore descriptions of the Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Then we got to some serious writing before we finished with thinking about differences between female and male characters.


We would like to thank all our wonderful writers. They worked very hard! We are now looking forward to lots of submissions to our GLARE story writing competition on ‘How to write a female villain’. Robin Stevens kindly supports our competition. She will give the final verdict and pick a winner for each age group.  Based on what we’ve seen in the workshop, it will be a tough decision.

The winning entries will be published on this blog! So watch this space!

Our special thanks go to the BookFest organisers, Sarah Mullen, the festival director, and Sala Davies, as well as the Blue Coat School who provided the space and the IT equipment. The Story Writing competition is also supported by the Bournville Bookfest.

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