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Lisa Thompson: Use your Ears to Tell a Story…!

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A while back, I remember seeing a local news story about a talented young artist called Kieron Williamson who, at the age of ten, had made an estimated £1.5 million from his exquisite paintings. At the time I remember wondering what kind of impact the attention and wealth must have had on his family.

Fast forward a few years and while I was thinking of an idea for a new book I remembered Kieron’s story. Initially, I thought about writing a book about an art prodigy, but after some planning, I ended up twisting the story a little and making my main character an ‘accidental’ artist, who has been thrust into the spotlight and the strange world of modern art…

The Boy Who Fooled The World is the story of Cole Miller, a young boy from a family struggling to make ends meet. His friends at school all appear to have everything whereas Cole’s dad is not working and his mum is about to lose her job. One day a famous modern artist visits his school and spots one of his paintings which she thinks is the best thing she’s ever seen! It sells for £1,000 at a posh London gallery. Cole then goes on to sell another painting for much more at an auction. Suddenly, he is the toast of the international art world, the star guest on TV shows and rich beyond his wildest dreams! But Cole has a guilty secret that if exposed will bring everything crashing down around him.  When this secret is revealed to the whole world, Cole decides to try and make amends by solving an old ‘treasure hunt’ that is hidden in an old painting in his local museum.

For your writing starter, I would like you to think about how your ears might help you to tell a story. It might sound strange but my ears are crucial when I am writing. I listen to music, I listen to the radio and I listen to people and conversations around me.

I would like you to turn on the radio and listen to anything for 5 to 10 minutes. Flick through different stations so that you can get a mix of sounds… from classical music to a weather report… from a play to a piece of rock music. Don’t get distracted, close your eyes and really, really listen. Be patient and see what comes up. Does anything you hear make a particularly vivid picture in your head? Or provoke a memory?  Can you imagine what the person who is speaking looks like and write a description of them just from hearing their voice?  After you’ve had a good chunk of listening time, sit down with your pen and paper and see what your ears may have helped you to discover.


The Boy Who Fooled the World was published 2nd January 2020 by Scholastic UK.

Lisa is The Reading Journey™ Author of the Month for March 2020 for Upper Key Stage Two.