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By Richard Johnson on 4.10.2023

Stage Spiders Visit Waterstone’s Book Signing

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To coincide with Will Hill signing copies of his teen thriller Department 19 at Waterstone’s, the UKC’s own Stage Spiders, a student and volunteer led children’s theatre company, were there to encourage fans to design covers for their favourite books.

As soon as I mention the words “Stage Spiders”, Safa lights up, reeling off everything that the group is a part of with proud enthusiasm. Immediately I can tell that her role as Vice President means much more to her than a title, and after winning “Student Led Volunteering Group” award for the second year running on top of an “Outstanding Contribution” nomination from Kent Union’s Volunteering Awards, her love for and confidence in Stage Spiders emanates from her.

“Our focus for the year is publicity, bringing arts and crafts to the children of Canterbury. We want to be seen in the community and get through to as many people as possible. We are involved with ten secondary schools in the local area. It is amazing what the volunteers and student committee do, and fantastic to see how much can be accomplished collectively!”


Will Hill seen here at the book signing

The “Waterstone’s Project” is of major importance to Safa: “Waterstone’s organised this book signing, but this project began in January where we did an interactive storytelling for The Gruffalo, where sixty children turned up. Our upcoming projects include taking Peter Pan around the local schools…we put our heart and souls into the projects.”

It is incredible to think that Safa even has time to eat, let alone study. “Sometimes I feel this takes priority over my degree, but if you love it, you’ll do it right. I get so excited doing Stage Spiders; it’s delightful to see ambition and enthusiasm from our volunteers. I’ve not only made good friendships in this group but it opens so many doors…this is the highlight of my Uni years.”

Waterstone’s’ Children’s Senior Bookseller James talked about his role in collaborations with Stage Spiders: “My position is to care for the shop, and organise events, getting the public involved any way we can. Getting Will Hill here is not just a signing, because collaborating with Stage Spiders makes it an event, something that we can involve the community in. The interactive storytelling events have been very successful, and working with Stage Spiders is great. Waterstone’s are in the process of becoming more independent, meaning each store has its own feel or vibe. So events with Stage Spiders are very important from that point of view.”


Again Will Hill signs a copy of his book Department 19

Kian Gallagher, aged 10 from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, was excited about the experience: “I heard about the signing in Waterstone’s, and the book is amazing, I loved how they wrapped it up at the end, and I can’t wait for the next book. It’s great to meet Will Hill.”
Will Hill had a few moments between signings to talk to InQuire, and divulged in his experience of meeting fans: “I was really nervous when we started, because I was never a person to go to author events. I was worried that I saw myself as that person who wanders into schools trying to persuade people to buy my book, it felt like I was a travelling salesman or something. I talk more about writing and how the process of authorship really works than I do about Department 19, I’m just happy to talk to people whether they’ve read it or not. Coming out and striking up conversation with people interested in books is lovely… I can talk a lot, so I’ll talk as long as people are still around listening! It’s nice to be able to do it.”

“A ten year old told me he really likes True Blood…Children now are so unphased by anything! I was reading Stephen King when I was 12 or 13, Salem’s Lot talked about Dracula coming to small town America, I just thought it was a fantastic idea and really stayed with me. It’s surprising how many children of that age haven’t read Dracula or Frankenstein, but my book stays very faithful to them, and I hope it will generate some amount of interest towards them, because they’re fantastic books.”

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