• GET SURREY | 30 May 2008 |

    JAMES BOOKS A PLACE

    A STUDENT will star as a character in a book thanks to an unusual birthday present his mother won in a charity auction. Horsell mum Caroline Wood read about the charity auction in a newsletter written by adventure author Darren Shan, who writes books for children and teenagers.

    Miss Wood said: “My son James Farrier is a huge fan of Darren Shan’s books and he gets a newsletter sent to him called Shanville Monthly. It said in the newsletter that Darren was going to be part of a charity auction and that you could bid to have your name used in one of his books. All the money raised from the auction went to a charity called Autism Speaks.”

    Seventeen top-selling authors around the world took part in the auction on eBay, including Lee Child and Jodi Picoult. Book lovers got caught up in a bidding war for the chance to see their name feature in an upcoming book by their favourite author.

    Miss Wood, a teaching assistant at Horsell Church of England Junior School, added: “I kept bidding for it and was thrilled to win the auction. But I didn’t say anything to James as I wanted to give it to him for his birthday. As soon as I won the auction I got in touch with Autism Speaks and then sent Darren Shan an email giving him James’ full name. Darren said that with James’s surname he can make quite an impression on the character.The book he will appear in is due out in October this year and is called Wolf Island. James’s character is promised a grisly death.

    “I think the auction was a fantastic idea. I had never heard of anything like it before. The money goes straight to charity and it is just a wonderful thing for James to remember his birthday.”

    So on James’s 16th birthday this month, May 12, his mother presented him with a copy of Darren’s latest work, Death’s Shadow. And inside the book was a letter from the author himself, stating that James would feature as a character in the next book.

    Speaking about his unusual gift, James, who is a pupil at Gordon’s School in West End, said: “Just the fact that I am going to be in a book is really amazing. Darren’s books have great storylines. My friends think it is pretty cool.”

    Autism Speaks raises funds for research into the causes of autism. The charity has set itself the task of achieving major research breakthroughs within the next 10 years. For more details about Autism Speaks go to www.autismspeaks.org.uk

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