Interviewed by K.C. Karr
Jenny, what about Carolyn’s bio convinced you to sub to her?
Carolyn was a ninja, so I couldn’t sub to her. She had to pick me, and I am very pleased she did.
Carolyn, what made you fall in love with Daniel Strange and the Prime Minister’s PLOP?
Jenny’s book made me laugh. It was ridiculous and different and very hooky. I loved so much about it, that I couldn’t not choose it. Her energy, her observations, her sense of fun; all made it magical for me.
Jenny, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?
My absolute favourite part has been getting to know Carolyn and her other mentee, the very talented Tess James-Mackey. I love our chats which usually start about the craft and descend into some properly strange places.
An also, all the super-valuable feedback Carolyn gave me alongside her unwavering support.
Carolyn, tell us what it was like working with Jenny.
Jenny was a dream to mentor. She got her edits done at high speed and was incredibly open to new ideas/ moving her work forwards. She is a primary school teacher, and her understanding of children and how they think really comes through in her work. I was so lucky to have Jenny and Tess, and to co-mentor Michal Lunsford. All such lovely, open people.
Jenny’s right- our conversations with Tess are hilarious and dark and often very sweary.
I think overall the best thing about Jenny is her honesty. She has had an incredible journey and she deserves every success that comes her way. It’s been a delight to try and support her through all that’s happened – and now I need her to mentor me!
Jenny, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?
How many talented writers and excellent stories are out there. I mean, I knew this was a crazily competitive industry, but when I read all the starting pages I was blown away by the talent.
Jenny, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Carolyn. What advice do you have for future mentees?
I think I work quite quickly so I didn’t find the deadline an issue. With regards to criticism, I’d say that you just have to go with it. For me, the course wasn’t about bagging an agent so much, as getting my book in the best possible shape. And to do that you have to take on board what you’re being told.
Jenny, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Sam Copeland of Rogers Coleridge & White. Give us all the details of “The Call.”
I’d sent Sam my #writementor manuscript and he’d sent me back some revision suggestions. In the meantime, I’d written another book, THE SUPER MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF FREDDIE YATES. I emailed that over to him too and that was the book he ended up signing me for and I couldn’t be more thrilled. He is not only a magnificent agent but an author too. His book CHARLIE CHANGES INTO A CHICKEN is out now and hilarious. You should all go and buy it.
You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?
Jenny – If I’m in a savoury kind of mood:
Ham spread with marmite and rolled up with cream cheese and capers.
Crab sticks with piccalilli and/or lime pickle.
Walkers ready salted crisps dipped into this whizzed up dip which consists of olives, mayo and grated cheese.
Broad beans in sweet chilli dipping sauce, vinegar and mayo.
Celery, Branston pickle and tabasco sauce.
And if I fancy something sweet:
Chocolate orange slices with squirty cream.
Melted Curly Whirly with squirty cream. Be careful not to put the Curly Whirly in the microwave for too long as it gets lava hot and it WILL stick to your tongue and take of a good few layers of tongue skin when you wrench it off.
Peanut butter straight out the jar. Sometimes I use a spoon.
Carolyn – I find writing makes me crave sweet things… a chocolate orange or a Toblerone would be the dream but it’s often Lidl’s own chocolate bars. Jenny and Tess sent me some designer brownies as a thank you – damn. They tasted like dreams and holidays and chocolate heaven.
Jenny’s snacking (above) is super serious. If I’m feeling savoury I’d go prawn cocktail crisps or those tubs of green olives with feta.
All of this food-talk is making me hungry.
What author has most inspired you, and why?
Jenny – Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Because the man is a genius. You can see how much he likes kids from his writing. His books are so full of heart and humour. And he seems like a genuinely decent human being.
Carolyn – Enid Blyton’s Famous Five because yes, they are worthy and old-fashioned… but they are also gripping thrillers! I also love Michael Crichton for his science-fact/fiction blurring. I’m inspired every day by the fabulous authors on Twitter- so kind and fun to interact with. I read quite a bit of adult too – so anything involving Lee Child gets my vote. I’m already so addicted I could go on Mastermind with Jack Reacher as my favourite subject.
Tell us about your favorite writing spot.
Jenny – Any place where I don’t have one of my kids swinging off me.
Carolyn – In the corner of the lounge with the canary for company.
What fictional world would you most like to live in?
Jenny – I kind of like this world.
Carolyn – I wouldn’t mind a day trip to Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. I’d swim in that river until my bits were wrinkly.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Jenny – I’m lucky in that I have been a teacher for thirteen years. That has meant I have met thousands of inspirational kids.
Carolyn – I’m inspired by all sort of things. I wrote a short story that got in my local newspaper after I watched a walking group wander past me, looking at birds. I started to think about what they’d do to a member of the group if they were annoyingly loud, scaring all of the birds away. They’d kill him, obviously.
My imagination is a very scary place.
Jenny Pearson has been awarded with six mugs, one fridge magnet, one wall plaque and numerous cards for her role as ‘Best Teacher in the World’. While she has not met the rest of the teachers in the world in contention for this title, she believes the evidence is stacking up in her favour.
When she is not busy being inspirational in the classroom, she would like nothing more than to relax with her two young boys, but she can’t as they view her as some sort of human climbing frame.
In her free time, if she isn’t writing, she can be found doing something sporty.
She has recently moved to the North East of England and while she has yet to meet Ant or Dec, she has learned how to use canny in a sentence. Which is dead canny, like.
Carolyn Ward writes MG and is represented by Chloe Seager of Northbank Talent. Living near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, Carolyn has an English degree and works in retail.
She became a mentor in Write Mentor’s first year, working closely with three talented writers and enjoying every second. She went on to develop her editing skills and now freelances for Bamboo Editing.
Three years ago she co-founded a local writing group based in a community pub and is also on YouTube as half of the Word Witches writer support duo. Between the MG edits she writes flash fiction and can be found all over the internet and on LingoBites foreign language app.
In her spare time she runs a telephone reading group for lonely older people with the charity Independent Age.
For more look on Twitter for: @Viking_Ma, @bambooediting, @WitchesWord and @CarolynWardWriter on FB.
Search ‘Introducing Word Witches’ on YouTube.
To find out more about being a telephone volunteer with Independent Age check out their website.