Congratulations Ms Charis Wightman! Our Head of English (& Assistant Head, Pastoral), has recently
had her first book published. The Girl from Saikea is categorised as Young Adult fiction and is suitable for children of 12 and over.
This is often a difficult category in which to find good fiction so it is a most welcome addition to our library.
As part of World Book Day, Thursday 5th March, we took the opportunity to interview Charis to find out about her
Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it:
“The Girl from Saikea is a Young Adult book, aimed at 12+ years. It’s the story of a girl called
Mai who comes from the secretive state, Saikea, a fictional totalitarian country in the East. She is
taken from her family on her fifth birthday and forced to train as a gymnast under the brutal
rule of Supervisor Sim. Soon after she turns sixteen, Saikea’s dictator, Master Kuro,
announces that girls will be allowed to compete, for the first time, at the World Championships in
the land of the free, United Empires. Upon this announcement Mai’s friends suddenly become her
fiercest competitors as they all do whatever it takes to get selected thus being given the chance to leave
The story came from my love of The Hunger Games. I was writing a stand-alone scene about
a competition for children where the stakes are exceptionally high and I remember a video
I’d seen years before about the brutality some gymnasts faced, as early as five years old, in
some countries, and the premise of the book was born.”
How do you go about choosing your characters’, names and backgrounds?
“I was heavily influenced by the Far East and different meanings for words. For example, the
Japanese word for black is Kuro, hence Master Kuro.”
Do you have any plans to write another book?
“The Girl from Saikea is the first book in a series so hopefully if popular enough then the
second will shortly follow!”
What do you enjoy most about teaching English at Brambletye?
“I love enthusing about books and language. The pupils are really enjoying discussing the
books they are reading and getting excited about what happens next! I get a
buzz out of teaching the children to analyse texts, especially poetry, encouraging them to
question why an author chose that word or that literary technique at that moment. Creative
writing is a real passion of mine and can often be really challenging to teach so I love this too.”
If you could write about a fictional character from Brambletye please name 5 character
“Friendly, creative, energetic, happy and a bookworm”
Charis is a judge for this year’s BBC Radio 2 500 Words Competition in
association with the Oxford University Press so she has a lot of reading ahead of her but she’s more than qualified for the job and looks
forward to receiving her bundle of stories to read soon. Brambletye pupils have also taken
part in the competition and we wish them all good luck!
Before teaching at Brambletye Charis Wightman taught in international schools in Dubai,
and was the Head of English at both Repton and Foremarke, where she was also a founding
teacher in the Prep School. She left to return to the UK to study for a Masters of Fine Arts in
Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults and The Girl from Saikea was written as part
of that qualification. Charis has been a teacher at Brambletye for just over one year and more recently
was appointed Head of English and Assistant Head, Pastoral.
Girl from Saikea is available to buy through Amazon