New York Times bestselling author speaks to CHS students

April Henry gave a virtual presentation to CHS students in April 2021.

By: Miranda Gregis, contributing writer

On Thursday, April 15, 2021, Centralia High School students had the opportunity to speak with New York Times bestselling author April Henry. She has written well-known books like Girl, Stolen, The Night She Disappeared and Playing with Fire, which is her newest book. 

Mrs. Danielle Bennett, CHS librarian, learned about this virtual presentation opportunity through the Unbound Book Festival organizers in Columbia, Missouri. According to the Unbound Book Festival website, their goal is to “bring nationally and internationally recognized authors of world-class renown to Columbia, Missouri, to talk about their books, their work and their lives.”

During this presentation, Henry gave the students a glimpse of her writing process. She does a lot of extensive research on a topic before she puts it in her book. For example, Henry wanted to know how hard it would be to run in handcuffs for one of her books, so she went to the park, handcuffed herself and ran around to test it out.

Several CHS students enjoyed listening to Henry’s presentation in the CHS library.

Gracie Stains, CHS junior, enjoyed this aspect of the presentation. “My favorite part of Henry’s presentation was hearing her explain the writing process. I think it’s so cool that she actually experiences real situations to help write her books. I think it gives her readers a real-life experience,” she said.

Abby Ridgel, CHS sophomore, is an avid April Henry reader and also attended the presentation. She said she loves how April Henry puts a spin on basic thriller topics in her novels.

By listening to Henry speak, students were able to see that these famous writers are just normal people. This is one aspect of writing that Bennett hoped students would learn from the presentation.  “I wanted them [students] to hear a professional author talk about the writing process, and I really wanted them to see that most authors are just normal people with normal lives,” Bennett said.

Ms. Kortney Sebben, CHS language teacher, also attended this presentation. She really enjoyed Henry’s humor. Sebben noted that it was very inspiring to hear about the author’s life and her journey to being a writer. “I liked that the students got to listen to someone they read often and got to see how approachable she is. My hope is that it makes them like her even more so they will read her books, and that they will see it is realistic to be a writer, not some abstract or glamorous unattainable thing,” Sebben said.

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