Published: 02 February 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
MORE than two decades after Robert Muchamore failed his A-levels at Acland Burghley school, the best-selling writer returned to inspire its students.
The author of the CHERUB and Henderson’s Boys teenage fiction novels told youngsters on Tuesday that they could be the next success story to emerge from the Tufnell Park secondary school.
“You don’t have to be great academically,” said the 40-year-old who grew up in Junction Road, where he lived up until last year.
“You can tell a great writer because they tend to be the sort of person who engages people in a joke, who tells a story well, they hold you in conversation.
Sometimes, if you don’t do well immediately, it can be good. It makes you look for talents you didn’t know you had.”
Mr Muchamore told students how after failing an Economics A-level, he went to dinner at a girlfriend’s house and said he wanted to be a writer to impress her mother.
“Part of why I admire this school so much is because of the melting pot of students you have here,” he said. “My mum was a cleaning lady and my dad was an insurance salesman, but I met my then girlfriend here, and her parents were very wealthy and ran a magazine publishing business.
When I went to dinner at their house it wasn’t like in my household, they had posh wine there and were talking about their holiday home in Italy.
I knew I had to say something to impress them, so I told her mum I wanted to be a writer and was midway through a book.
She wanted to see it, so obviously, I had to write something fast.”
After talking to pupils for two hours, he spent an hour signing books.
“As I was talking some of them were sitting in their PE kits – the same one I used to wear,” he added.
“I still remember my fantastic English teacher at that school, Barbara Ward.
She taught there for 33 years and has now retired.
When I got my first book published, she was one of the first people I sent it to.”
• Mr Muchamore will be signing books from 5pm on Saturday, at Waterstones in the O2 Centre in Finchley Road.