Jane Lawes grew up in Surrey, and spent her childhood dancing and practising gymnastics in the garden. She studied American Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. When she’s not writing fiction, she works as an Editor of adult non-fiction books. Her first series, Gym Stars, was published by Usborne in 2012, and her new series, Ballet Stars, is publishing in 2015.
Q. What books did you read when you were a child?
A. I liked Enid Blyton’s boarding school stories and books by Jean Ure, who has written a lot of ballet stories. The Jean Ure book that I loved the most was Star Turn.
Q. If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A. I think I would be Jessamy Hart, the main character in Star Turn. She’s eleven years old, really good at ballet and very funny. And her family are all famous ballet dancers so she has an exciting life full of dancing and theatres!
Q. What is the best thing about reading?
A. You can escape into a different world and live all sorts of exciting lives through the characters you’re reading about.
Q. What is your all time favourite book?
A. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I first read it at school and it’s the book I go back to when I need to read something comforting and familiar.
Q. Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A. I think talking together regularly about things your children have been doing, reading and playing is important in helping children to practise expressing their thoughts and ideas. Helping children to get used to describing things and articulating their thoughts verbally, with someone who is interested in hearing what they have to say, can help them to gain confidence in communicating. Making up stories together could also be a fun way to fire your child’s imagination.
Q. How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A. They were very encouraging and were always happy to read my stories. They bought me books from a very young age and took me to the library very often. By encouraging a love of reading first, they helped me to improve my vocabulary and to become familiar with different types of writing. Once I began to write stories of my own they were always interested in reading them. My mum still has some of my creative writing books from primary school (although I cringe when I read what’s written in them and I sincerely hope they’ll never be seen by anyone else!).
Q. How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A. I don’t have children or grandchildren, but I volunteer once a week reading with children at a local primary school. We like reading non-fiction books together and discovering new things about the world. The children I read with are mostly boys and they seem to prefer to read and talk about non-fiction than stories. In the future, if I have children, I will look forward to sharing Shirley Hughes books with them because those are stories that I loved as a child and still love now. I would encourage them to read whatever books they’re interested in as I wouldn’t want to give a child the idea that he or she was reading the ‘wrong’ books.
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