Granny Goth’s love for the Great Frog - Jacqueline Wilson

SOUTH Yorkshire fans were lucky enough to meet bestselling children’s author Jacqueline Wilson, when she stopped off at Meadowhall Shopping Centre on her UK book tour.

Fans pre-registered online for the 200 available tickets, and despite their guaranteed place, queues began forming four hours before her estimated arrival, to be the first to meet the much loved children's writer.

Jacqueline’s novels commonly deal with challenging themes such as adoption, divorce and mental illness, and addressing these issues in such a creative way have made her the success she is today. In the UK alone, Jacqueline’s total book sales now stand at more than 35 million. She has won countless awards, was awarded an OBE for services to literacy in schools and in 2008 she became Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

JESSICA FOGARTY speaks to Jacqueline to find out more about life as a bestselling children’s author...

Q Can you tell us about your latest book Four Children and IT?

A It’s light hearted, fun and magical. I’m a big fan of Edith Nezbit’s story Five children and It — It’s about a magical pre-historic creature who grants wishes to five Edwardian children. So with this inspiration, I basically resurrected the creature, who now grants wishes to my modern children — but the twist is that the wishes go wrong. I really enjoyed writing it, it’s very different from my previous books.

Q Do you receive many book ideas from your readers and do you ever use them?

A I get all sorts of ideas from my fans — they have very vivid imaginations. Sometimes parents will send me ideas too, or approach me with suggestions at book signings. I recently had a request from a mum to write a story about bed wetting, which left the little boy stood next to her cringing in horror. Although I do love hearing their suggestions, I do tend to use my own ideas.

Q Where does your inspiration come from for the characters in your books?

A I do use my own childhood memories. I grew up in the 1950s and although the world has changed dramatically since I was a small girl, I still remember what it felt like to be a teenager — the fun, the adventures and the problems you face at that age.

Q You wrote your first book when you were nine, is that when you first discovered your talent for writing?

A I’d like to say yes, but if I'm honest, my first book was just 20 pages long so I don’t count it. But I suppose it was at this time when I realised that I wanted to become a professional writer. I was actually 17 years old when my short stories were first published, and I was 22 when my first novel was published. My mum always says I've never had a proper job, because I started writing so young, but writing is what I love and I wouldn't ever want to change what I do.

Q How long does it take you to write a book?

A It takes me around six months to complete a book. The majority of the time is spent thinking about the characters and adventures, then once I start to put pen to paper, it just seems to come together all at once. I carry a notepad with me everywhere I go and I'm constantly scribbling down ideas. Once I have , then when I have all my ideas, I'll sit at my PC at home and begin. I work in a very old-fashioned way, but that’s just what works for me.

Q You are known not only for your books, but for what you wear. How would you describe your style?

A A fan once called me a ‘Granny Goth’, and that’s probably a fair comment. I wear mostly black clothing combined with flamboyant silver jewellery. My favourite shop is The Great Frog — that’s where I buy most of my jewellery collection from.

Q From your experience, do you have any top tips for budding writers?

A Read as much as you can—not to copy ideas but simply to enrich your imagination. And secondly, keep a diary — This will encourage you to write every day, and once you get into a routine, you will be able to do the same with a novel. Even if you write for just 20 minutes every day, by the end of the year, you will have enough copy for a novel.


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