THE Swindon Youth Festival of Literature reached a fantastic finale yesterday with a visit from popular children’s author Derek Landy.

More than 600 year 7 and Year 8 pupils from all 11 secondary schools around Swindon visited the Wyvern Theatre to hear from the author of the Skulduggery Pleasant novels about how he came to write the fantasy series.

Queues stretched from the stage all through the theatre and into the main foyer as children lined up to get their books signed by the author.

And he had flown over from Ireland especially to take part in the festival.

Twelve-year-old Maddie Davidson, from Isambard Community School, was particularly impressed with the advice Derek gave about becoming a writer.

She said: “I thought he was really good, “He was really funny and I’ve read a few of his books before.

“He wasn’t what I was expecting. His books are quite dark and I thought he might be like that but he wasn’t, he was bright and funny.

“I want to be a writer and he told us about how he became one and said that you should never give up on your dreams.”

The author not only spoke about how he became a novel writer after writing the screenplays for two award-winning films, Dead Bodies and Boy Eats Girl, but he also talked about plans to turn the popular series into a film.

Thirteen-year-old Bethan Harris, who attends Kingsdown School, was one of the hundreds of fans who met Derek.

She said: “It was really good. It was interesting to know about how he wrote his books and what his life was before.”

The morning saw the culmination of the sixth Youth Festival Of Literature, which this year was extended to include primary school children.

Alison Slaven from Nova Hreod School, was one of the librarians involved in making the festival a success.

She said: “From the point of view of the students it has been brilliant because they are meeting their heroes. No matter what other people say authors are their role models, and can really inspire students and help them to think about what choices to make to get there.

“And none of this would have been possible without the support of the Swindon Association Of Secondary Headteachers.”

The festival took place with the support of Swindon Central Library and the Wyvern Theatre, and was funded by the Swindon Association of Secondary Headteachers, which raised £14,300 for the week-long project.

Richard Loftus, the marketing manager at the Wyvern, said: “The Wyvern was delighted to once again hold the finale of the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature. it’s been a sensational skulduggery delight.”