Jo Simmons

What books did you read when you were a child?
My granny used to read me Beatrix Potter when I was very little and then I moved on to Roald Dahl’s stories, CS Lewis’ Narnia books and The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings by Tolkien.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
I like how strong and smart Hermione Granger is in the Harry Potter stories, but I’d really like to be Winnie the Pooh, wandering around the woods with his friends, eating and thinking and humming.

What is the best thing about reading?
The chance to escape, and to discover new worlds that leap from the page and become huge in your mind.

What is your all time favourite book?
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. Wild, weird but also technically brilliant and so surprising.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Eat a meal each day with them, around the table, and talk. Long walks and even car journeys are also great for chats. And make sure you’re listening, too, when they are speaking.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
I don’t remember them playing any kind of part, really. But when I was younger, I used to write to my friends during university holidays and when I lived abroad. Writing was something we all did, pre internet and mobile phone.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
I encourage them to read whatever takes their fancy – any reading is good reading, so if they don’t like fiction, try non fiction, comics, magazines. My children are now a little too old to read with, but we all used to love reading funny fiction together, especially Mr Gum.

Jo started her career on magazines in London, moved to Brighton and became a freelance journalist and then, in about 2010, began toying with the idea of funny fiction for young readers. This eventually resulted in the Pip Street series and Super Loud Sam stories for Scholastic, and she now works with Bloomsbury, writing funny standalone stories for children aged 8-10. The first one, I Swapped My Brother On The Internet is out in January 2018.

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