AN eight-year-old girl has been inspired to write after winning a competition set by an acclaimed children's book artist.

Amelia Watson and her class at Tottington Primary School were tasked with writing their own versions of Christina Balit's book 'Escape from Pompeii'.

The author - who is known for her ethnic style - paid a visit to the school over Skype after teacher Simon Hunt organised the call to surprise his class.

Pupils in Years 3 and 4 had been reading 'Escape from Pompeii' as part of their Romans topic.

Balit listed Amelia as the overall winner for her competition and praised her 'fine details' and 'clear writing flair'.

Amelia said: "My mum was astonished that I had won and she couldn’t believe Christina Balit had read my story.

"Before this I wanted to be a brain surgeon but now I want to be an author when I grow up, just like Christina."

Of British and Armenian descent, Balit spent her childhood years in the Middle East, which gave her first-hand experience of many of the cultures from which her stories are taken.

To Mr Hunt's surprise, Balit agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to speak with the children at Tottington Primary.

Mr Hunt said: "The children absolutely loved the book. I couldn’t believe that she agreed to speak to us.

"The very week after I contacted her, my class were able to quiz her about her writing style and about what it takes to become an author.

"Christina was so impressed with the class that she set them a writing challenge. She even agreed to a second interview."

A total of 90 pupils spent an entire week writing their stories before Mr Hunt emailed them through to Balit.

He said: "She was so impressed she decided to read some of them back to the children and to discuss how they were all such good writers at such a young age.

"You could see how proud the children were to have their work read aloud by a famous author. It had a powerful impact.

"One day, I think some of our pupils will become famous authors too."

At the end of the session, Balit announced that she would award four signed books to the children who had impressed her the most.