Archive for the tag “libraries”

Long overdue, just updated my author page on Amazon

I have just updated my author page on Amazon to read as follows:

My name is Jen Smith – I write teen books under the name Jenny Smith, and books for 7-10 year olds under the name J.L. Smith.

I live in Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire, with my family and my small dog Angus. My ambition is to swim with whales, dolphins and porpoises, unfortunately the local leisure centre is not being co-operative.

2013 sees the publication of ‘The Abominators’ series for children aged 7-10. This was written to encourage one of my sons (who is dyslexic and was not a confident reader) to read, and is filled with humour, ridiculousness, naughtiness and pranks which I knew would appeal to him. It is illustrated by the brilliant Sam Hearn, who really brings the story to life with his hilarious line drawings. At a visit by a group of Year 4s to our local bookshop, 26 out of 38 children (that’s 7 out of 10) voted for The Abominators to take back for their school library. The reviews so far are very encouraging.

I was born and brought up in Glasgow, and loved to write from a very young age thanks to my father’s storytelling.

I have a blog where I review books and talk about writing and life in general called http://www.writingaboutpants.wordpress.com

In my early twenties I worked in Africa for a relief and development charity. I am so glad I had this experience because since then I’ve never been overly attached to possessions and ‘stuff’. It is relationships, friendships and experiences that represent your life. I put this message across in ‘The Abominators’ where Cecil and his father are no longer rich, but Cecil has never been happier because now he has friends.

I returned to the UK and joined school text book publishers Heinemann (now Pearson), where part of my job was organising author visits to schools. I met and was inspired by children’s authors Anne Fine, Dick King-Smith and Nigel Hinton. Meeting them made me think ‘maybe one day I could do that’.

I don’t think that studying English Literature at University helped me in my writing. Studying the ‘greats’ meant that I never thought that anything I wrote was good enough. I submitted a very serious literary novel to publishers in the early 1990s (with the encouragement of none other than Professor Philip Hobsbaum, highly respected poet and English Literature lecturer), and although I had some encouragement from Robin Robertson who was then at Jonathan Cape it went no further. This confirmed all of my insecurities and I was so discouraged I did not write anything (except a few short stories and poems) for twelve years.

In 2006 a good friend said to me: ‘You’re funny, you should write funny’. This led to the first draft of ‘Diary of a Parent Trainer’, which was accepted by Scholastic in 2008. It was published in 2011, followed by ‘My Big Fat Teen Crisis’ which came out in 2012. ‘Diary of a Parent Trainer’ has been published in eight other countries, and is doing very well in France and Germany.

I’ve appeared twice on Dave Gorman’s radio comedy show ‘Genius’, love watching stand up and comedy and think humour is not just important, it is a divine force (put that in your pipe and smoke it, literary snobs).

As my day job I am a freelance copywriter. I write (on a voluntary basis) for charities at the Clare Foundation. I can be contacted on: jennysmithauthor@hotmail.com.

I think that libraries are important and we should safeguard them, whatever future form they may take. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds need a place where they can access great literature free of charge, this is a right that must not be lost. My father came from a poor background and he educated himself in his local library.

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Chatterbooks in Aylesbury

On Tuesday I went to Aylesbury library to have a reading session with some children who are members of the ‘Chatterbooks’ scheme. The scheme encourages reading in Primary age children and is a chance for them to talk about what they’ve read.

This visit was organised by the events organiser at the library, Ben Foster. He’d sent me some very funny emails offering a limo and champagne so I felt relaxed before I even got there.

The group were all enthusiastic, with one little girl in particular full of questions. We talked about how many possibilities language gives us. They all made up silly names for themselves and then I challenged them to tell me something about the characters who might have those names. One boy said that his character was very tiny when he was not feeling confident, but could be a giant when he was feeling brave. Every one of them came up with a strong idea and I think got the point that ideas are about putting things together and seeing if they make sense or if they create something new.

At one point they asked about my books for teenagers. I was trying to explain the plot of ‘Diary of a Parent Trainer’ and told them that the lead character was writing a manual about how to ‘operate’ grown ups. One little girl asked what the manual would be, and I said that it would be a complete user’s guide, so you had full instructions about operating your grown up.

“I REALLY need one of these!” she cried, clapping her hands together.

There were twin boys there, very bright and full of questions about writing. One of them shyly showed me an exercise book which was crammed full of his story, you could see he’d put in hours of work and it was impressive for somebody still at Primary school. I was glad I had talked to them about planning out stories and being selective as you write, I think he took it on board and I hope it will help him.

Then his twin brother asked me to sign a piece of paper and said: “Could you please write a message to me telling me to not let my brother give up writing, because he’s really good.”

I swallowed down the lump which was forming in my throat, and did exactly that.

Great visit, great kids, well done Chatterbooks.

Chatterbooks in Aylesbury 4th June

Chatterbooks is a fantastic scheme in local libraries where children and teenagers meet to discuss books they’ve read. I’m lucky enough to have gone along to a Chatterbooks session at Beaconsfield library, and in June I’m going to one at Aylesbury library.

It’s great to meet enthusiastic readers and talk about what books they enjoy. Thank you, Aylesbury library, and Ben Foster, for this poster to advertise the event. Ben has offered me vintage wine and a limo of course, but I’ve settled for a chariot, pulled by a large team of West Highland terriers…

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