AN award-winning novelist, who beat JK Rowling to a coveted Blue Peter Book prize, has been encouraging pupils in North Yorkshire to get writing.

Leading children's author and former teacher Alan Gibbons spent the day with students at the Allertonshire School in Northallerton, in a literary workshop to help tap into their creative imaginations.

Published in 1999, his first book Shadow of the Minotaur won the Blue Peter Book Award 2000, beating established authors JK Rowling, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.

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He has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2001 and 2003 and twice for the Booktrust Teenage Prize.

“I was inspired to become a writer by my own love of reading,” he said.

“I loved Marvel comics and fantasy and legend novels like Robert Louis Stephenson’s Treasure Island and the Boy’s Own Adventure stories.

“Now it’s great to be able to inspire other young minds by helping them to step outside of the normal English curriculum, let them hear a different voice, free their imaginations and deconstruct the writing process to help them build and create their own stories.”

Alongside working with Year 8 students the celebrated author also entertained pupils and staff with anecdotes about his own education, experiences as a teacher and real life issues that encouraged him to start writing.