Our eighth First Story anthology by our 2020 cohort, ‘Spilled Secrets’ coming soon…

Featuring 16 talented young writers from Years 8 -10 spilling their stories, this year’s anthology is full of unique characters, diverse voices, reflection, humour, and plenty of secrets.

Here’s a sneak peek if feeling peckish: ‘How to Cook a Lasagne the Right Way‘ by Madeline Bilbrough. Sssh, don’t tell anyone.

‘Firstly, picture what you want to make and how you would like it to look by the end. Know that if your mum isn’t home, it will be a great surprise; same goes for any siblings. Your dad won’t really care, so don’t bother telling him. Realise that it won’t turn out the way you want it to.

Pick the ingredients from the fridge or cupboard. If the pasta sheets aren’t there, then, oh well, you can survive without them. Pick out a good pot: in case you don’t know, it’s the round thing with the handle on the end. It`s best to go with the one that’s blue on the outside but with black chips on the inside where the pot has worn away after being left on the stove multiple times with nothing inside.

Now you can start cooking. Turn on the stove and pour some oil in the pot: not around it, inside of it. Then chop some onions and place them in the pan. Once the onions have turned a brown-golden sort of colour like burnt pastry, chop some mushrooms and add them to the pan, as well as the mince and the crushed garlic. Fun fact: lasagne is not lasagne without mushrooms. They complete the taste.

Don’t pay much attention to the pot. When the smoke alarm goes off, that’s when you know that the chopped tomatoes from the tin cans can be added. When it all starts to bubble, you can turn the stove off.

Now that the sauce has been cooked, it is almost ready – not really, you’ve still got a while to go. Get out a white casserole dish and pour a quarter of the sauce into it. By the way, I was only joking before, you DO NEED the pasta sheets. Place them on the sauce and carry on adding layers until the dish is overflowing. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top.

You have now done all the hard work. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees, bake, and when your dad comes out complaining about a burning smell, jump up and take it out of the oven. If, when you remove the lasagne, smoke billows in your face, feel a sense of satisfaction because it has turned out perfectly. Serve it to your mum, and when she starts gagging, know that you have succeeded: she will never let you live on your own. Prepare for free housing for the rest of your life.’

The First Story writing programme has been running in George Green’s School since 2012, giving students the opportunity to write alongside published writers including Nii Parkes, Laura Dockrill, Kate Kingsley, Steven Camden, Hannah Silva and Pete Hobbs. Since 2012, seven anthologies containing over 150 students’ work have been published and our eighth is due out in June. Each anthology has its own ISBN and all are included in the collection of the British Library. Alongside taking part in the Young Writers’ Festivals in Oxford and Cambridge, four students have also taken part in the First Story summer programme at the prestigious Avon Writing Centre. Our 2019 anthology ‘When Time Runs Out’ was launched at the Greenwich Book Festival.

Click here to find out more about First Story and resources to cultivate creative writing at home, competitions and events including National Writing Day on 24th June 2020.