A warm welcome to Jennifer Killick, author of the wonderfully funny middle grade novels, Alex Sparrow and The Really Big Stink., plus Alex Sparrow and The Furry Fury.
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
Writer, mother, stepmother. Quietly content and overly excitable. Loyal, loving and silly. Always trying to do better.
What makes you happy?
My children, my husband, my friends. My beautiful garden. Wearing pyjamas and fluffy slippers. Tea and cake. Brilliant books. Nice dinners. Prosecco. Running in the springtime. All sorts of animals and birds. Karaoke. Christmas. The Great British Bake Off. The Great Pottery Throwdown. Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Tulle dresses you can twirl in. Taylor Swift’s older albums. So. Many. Things.
Where is your favourite place to write & illustrate?
I’m all for comfort, so I do like getting cosy in my bed with my mac on my lap. That way if I feel I need a nap, I don’t even have to move.
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
I’m currently reading Sabaa Tahir’s ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ and really enjoying it. I have so many books on my TBR! I’m really excited about reading ‘Mold and the Poison Plot’ by Lorraine Gregory. I read an earlier draft of it and found it so funny and warm – I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished version. I’ve also got my eye on ‘Gaslight’ by Eloise Williams and ‘Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds’ by Horatio Clare. Then later in the year there will be Phillip Pullman’s ‘The Book of Dust’ and new stories from Patrick Ness and Stephanie Perkins. Amongst a gazillion other books I want to read!
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked (and what was your answer)?
My stepson asks me strange questions constantly. The last one I can remember involved planning an escape route from the Titanic, whether I’d take a baby with me if I managed to get into a lifeboat and how we would find each other again after we escaped. I told him not to worry, that I would never leave him in the first place, and he explained that he would be leaving me to save himself, but that if I managed not to die, he’d come and look for me later!
What’s your worst habit?
I have so many bad habits. A lot of them involve picking things.
Your favourite word(s)?
I love ‘stink-eye’ because it sounds exactly like what it is. I totally overuse it in my writing. I also love words that sound cute, often with endings like ‘let’ or ‘ling’ – ‘hoglet’, ‘duckling’ and ‘seedling’ are all words that make me feel happy.
What are your top tips for budding childrens’ writers?
Spend time around children of the age you want to write for and study how they interact. Ask them their opinions and their likes and dislikes. Then write as their equal, not somebody older and superior! Don’t be afraid to go a bit crazy, imaginatively speaking – the best stories have a part of the writer in them, and that’s what makes them unique. And if you can, make friends with people going through the same process as you. My writing friends (who I met through the Golden Egg Academy) have helped me to manage all the ups and downs on the road to publication.
What was your route to the publication for Alex Sparrow and The Really Big Stink?
I wrote the first version of The Stink for my Creative Writing MA dissertation. It did well so I started submitting to agents and had a few close calls but no take up. I then met Imogen Cooper of the brilliant Golden Egg Academy and rewrote it under her mentorship. This led to an agent offer from Kirsty McLachlan, some more editing, and then my offer from Firefly. Hurrah!
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake & biscuits!)
My current WIP is another Alex Sparrow adventure, and it features a new character who I’m completely in love with. Where’s my cake?
Did we forget anything?
I don’t think so – I feel thoroughly questioned!
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea, tea, tea!
Paper books or e-books? Paper, always.
Cake or chocolate? Cake.
Write or type? Type.
Poetry or prose? Prose
Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin? Ravenclaw with a few Hufflepuff tendencies.
Hot or cold? Cold or pleasantly warm. I hate hot!
Read My Book Corner’s review of Jennifer Killick’s Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink here.