Personal Demons – About

is a literacy adventure – an opportunity for KS3 pupils to improve literacy skills by working on a real book with a real author – all within the framework of a virtual world.

did it start?

The project offers schools the chance to collaborate with author Steve Alton. Steve is sharing the process of writing his fourth novel, Personal Demons, with pupils, working with them on the processes of drafting, editing, plotting and polishing. With the help of AST Jack Todhunter and Cambridge University, Steve is making the resources available to more schools.With Personal Demons, pupils write their own extracts (or collaborate as a class), offering them to Steve as potential improvements to his novel. Schools currently involved in the project say that students see a new purpose to their literacy work, knowing that they were working on writing that might be included in a published book. Able students have responded enthusiastically, while weaker and disaffected pupils have blossomed.

How can we use this in our school?

Steve and Jack were amazed at the success of the project in Rotherham, and are now ready to share it with more schools. Working with the Centre for Applied Research into Educational Technology at Cambridge University, they have created an online version of the Personal Demons projects. The online version will introduce students to a virtual world, where multimedia merges with Steve’s writing to recreate the sense of interaction with the author that was so important to the original project.

Students are introduced to Steve’s ‘notebook’, a book which comes to life on the screen. It combines pages from the novel with video and audio. Students can work through the literacy exercises with their teacher, focusing on the different literacy skills. When students are pleased with their work, they can post it to Steve to read. Steve is looking forward to receving all your writing – and some of your class’s ideas may make it into the final novel.

Personal Demons is also intended to raise a number of PSHE issues in the classroom, particularly to encourage students to discuss bullying and sexuality. The best way to find out more is to look for yourself…

Start the Personal Demons adventure

See some of Steve’s other books, The Malifex and The Firehills

Read Jack’s account of the project at Newman School.

Read a student’s account of the project at Newman School.

Read Steve’s response to the project at Newman School.