All About Jo

IMG_9020cropsmallHello! I’m Jo Cotterill and I write books for children and young people. Some random things about me:

1. I live in Oxfordshire.

2. I have two daughters who make me laugh every day and give the best hugs.

3. I love cheese. And chocolate. And CAKE. Cake seems to be very important to writers. When we meet up, there is almost always cake involved.

4. I love the Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing. When I was younger I studied ballet, jazz and tap dance, so I’d love to have a go at ballroom one day.

5. One of my previous jobs was being a fireworks technician. I got to wear a hard hat and a boiler suit with my name on it, and I got very close to explosives and it was frightening and fun all at the same time.

6. When I was a teenager, I didn’t write a lot of stories. Instead, I wrote a lot of music. And I played flute, piccolo, alto saxophone, piano and violin. Nowadays I can’t play them all very well (because being good at something takes practice and I don’t do it any more!) but sometimes, I still write songs.

7. I love talking to kids about books and stories. They have the BEST ideas.

8. I love starting a story and not really knowing where it’s going. For me, the magic of writing is not knowing what’s going to come out of your imagination next.

9. One of the nicest things about being an author is being friends with other authors who are just as bonkers as you are.

10. I have won the following awards: The Hampshire Book Award, the North East Book Award, the Coventry Inspiration Book Award, the Oxfordshire Book Award, the Stockport Children’s Book Award, and the Fantastic Book Awards. Awards are lovely things because it’s nice to get prizes, but the best thing about them is knowing that lots of young people liked your made-up stuff.

78 thoughts on “All About Jo

  1. Hi I loved your visit didcot girls school today it was funny excited and everyone enjoyed it the snipet from the book you read was amazing and can’t wait to read it it was a privalage to have you come to the school today !! Thanks jessica x

    1. hi Jessica! Did I have my photo taken with you? I’m about to put it on my blog! It was SO lovely to come to your school; I felt really welcome 🙂 and hopefully I’ll come back before too long! Jo x

  2. Hey Jo, I part of Didcot Girls’ School and I loved you coming and speaking. I can’t wait for you to come again. Being scared made it hard for me to put my hand up to ask a question, I have Always LOVED writing but find it hard to keep the story interesting, how do you do it?

    1. Hi Caitlin, how lovely of you to leave me a message! Great question, too! I think the answer to keeping a story interesting is good planning. You have to know where your story is going. For me, the chapter can get dull if I’m not quite sure what’s supposed to happen next or how to get there. Keep throwing problems at your main character, that’s a great way to keep the story exciting! And skip the dull bits, like how he or she got on a bus or what they had for dinner etc. go straight to the action! And make each problem harder to solve than the one before – that way, when you finally get to the last scene, your reader will feel they can’t put down the book! Good luck 🙂 Jo x

      1. Hi Jo I recently read one of your books called Jelly. I found it really gripping and was up till ten at night reading it – where do you get your ideas from?! I can’t wait to read another one of your books!

  3. Hi! so i read your book “take two” and i am doing a book report and we need to write about the writer of the book, and i’m pretty sure that is you! But i can’t find any facts about you anywhere.. 😦 So please can you tell a little about yourself? Like age, where you live and stuff like that! 🙂 Thank you, and your book was really understanding for me who’s not as good as the other people in my school.

  4. hi its sophie here i was wondering if you could give me so information about your childhood , the reason why is because it is for my english homework . if you remember i told you about it in burford secondary school library

  5. Hi Jo! my name is Anya and I went to the NEBA (north east book awards) and was soo happy that you won! Looking at the stars in my favourite book (especially as you signed it). I have had some rough times at school and have just swapped. it was like Amina was real and helping me through it all. So thanks. Please do a sequel to looking at the stars. It would be epic. Love you soo much. #bestauthorever Xx

    1. Hi Anya! Aww, what a lovely message, thank you 🙂 I would love to write a sequel to Looking at the Stars – in fact, the more time passes, the more I think it’s something I should do. But it won’t be for a while – I’ve got lots of writing to do for my Electrigirl series and some new books for another publisher too, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a bit longer! I’m so glad that Amina helped you through the rough times; it’s wonderful how books can do that, and I’m really touched that one of mine has meant so much to you. Good luck at your new school – hope it is EPICALLY better than the last! 🙂 Jo x

      1. HI Jo! so glad you got my message. My first day at my new school was awesome and I hope it stays like that! thanks!

      2. Hi Jo! Can I just say that I absolutely loved your novel ‘Looking at the stars’.The book as brought me to tears more than once! I am so thrilled I found it. I have two questions that I wanted to ask ( mostly about things which weren’t quite understandable, clarified or explained in the book).
        I was a big fan of the monent where Aron and Amina were snuggling up against each other in the tent. Amina said she suspected that he thought she was Jenna. Was that really the case?
        Another question is about the time Amina had finished telling a story and Aron had said ‘That was quite a romantic story this evening’. He then said ‘ I wondered if you have been talking to your sisiter…’. Unfortunately, they got interrupted, ane I was puzzled. What was he going to say?
        I’m very sorry if the quotes I have picked out aren’t accurate, I wrote them from the top of my head. Also, english isn’t my first language, I am sincerely sorry if I had made any mistakes.
        I would be OVER THE MOON if you answered. If this is an inconvinient pkace for you to answer, I could send you an email instead.

      3. Hi Bushra! Ooh, great questions! OK, so here’s a bit of a secret: in the first draft of the book, Aron and Amina got a LOT closer. But my editor (quite rightly) said she didn’t think the romantic part of the story was working very well, and so most of it got taken out. I think Aron knows perfectly well who he’s snuggling up to in the tent. It’s just that Amina knows that Jenna is more the ‘traditional’ type of girl, and Amina has been told off so many times in her life for being ‘difficult’ that she finds it hard to imagine that a boy might prefer her instead of Jenna. And later, when they got interrupted, just as they were about to discuss Jenna…well, I’ll leave that one as a bit of a secret, I’m afraid 😉 Who knows what Aron might have said if the conversation had gone on? Maybe you could write that scene 🙂
        I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book – and I think your English is AMAZING. I can’t speak any other languages very well, so I think you’re doing brilliantly! Best wishes Jo x

  6. Hey 🙂
    I know you might not see this given how long its been since the last comments but whatever… 😅
    I just wanted to say thank you for writing and putting the books out into the world! Red Tears was a book that I read during a particularly difficult time in my life and it helped me better understand my own feelings and experiences as reading it helped me understand I wasn’t alone in my feelings and was part of why I ended up getting help 😅
    Actually, I found this website because I’m doing more research on you & your books for my second year English literature assignment about ‘how effective children’s literature is in dealing with “sensitive” issues’ foruniversity and i picked Red Tears as one of the books i’m presenting about 🙂
    So… yeah 😅 thank you again!

    1. Hi Alice! Ah, that’s wonderful to hear, thank you so much. Red Tears is out of print now, so you can’t buy it in the shops any more 😦 it’s a real shame but I’m hoping to get it re-published at some point. I’m so glad that it helped you – and good luck with your assignment! Jo x

  7. Dear Jo,

    You recently did an assembly and a workshop at my school. I really enjoyed your assembly and I was lucky enough to be picked for your workshop.

    I really enjoyed your Chismas story as it was a real page turner and your workshop gave me a chance to think imaginatively.
    Thank you for letting me write a story without any guidelines and a picture for inspiration; I rarely get to do this.

    I feel that coloured pencils and blank paper were a really good way to write creatively.

    Thank you very much for visiting.

    Yours sincerely,

    Fred F

    1. Hi Fred! I’m so glad you enjoyed the workshop. And isn’t it funny how coloured pencils and blank paper makes you work differently?! I’m constantly surprised by the way it changes the results. Thanks for writing to me, and make sure you treasure your imagination – it’s a very, very important thing to have 😀 Jo x

  8. hey Jo,
    you recently came to my school (wyvern college) and delivered an amazing assembly to us all in year 8. I love the way you presented because you are so enthusiastic and happy. sadly i wasn’t picked to do your writing workshop but my friends said it was incredible and they all had a fab time. I know you have got a lot of messages from people at wyvern so i will not babble on for too long, i just have a few questions:

    what is your favourite character that you have written about?

    how many bars of chocolate do you get through in a week roughly?

    thanks for your time,
    Lana Mann xx

    1. Hi Lana! I’m so glad you enjoyed my visit 🙂
      My favourite character is one I wrote about a few years back. Her name is Mari, and she appears in two of my Sweet Hearts books: Star Crossed, and Strictly Friends. Mari is a larger-than-life character, and I based her a little bit on one of my best friends Mandie, who is one of the most positive people you could meet 🙂

      Hahaha!! That’s an excellent question about the chocolate, and I couldn’t possibly answer it truthfully…;)

      Jo x

  9. Hi Jo

    My daughter Grace (7) has been reading the Electrigirl books and is a massive fan. She has even been inspired to make a piskie out of lollypop sticks and pipe cleaners! She has a question – how long did it take you to write the Deadly Swarm?

    Many thanks in Advance!

    1. Hello! And hi Grace! I’d LOVE to see your piskie! (Send me a photo to and I’ll pop it on my blog!) Excellent question about The Deadly Swarm. It took me about two months to write the first draft. But then I had to rewrite it four times before my editors were happy! So overall, about nine months – and then you have to add in the time it takes for Cathy to do all the art work. An Electrigirl book takes about a year from start to finish 🙂

  10. hi I love your book “looking at the stars” I’m not even half way through it and I`m all ready hooked.

    1. Hi Coral! I’m so glad; hurray! Thank you for letting me know 🙂 by the way, I love your name. I used ‘Coral’ as a character’s name in A Library of Lemons…! Jo x

  11. Dear Jo,
    My name is Inara,
    we have to do a book review on any book and I chose Library of lemons (only because I love that book)
    I saw your website but I have one question when did you start writing books?

    1. Hi Inara! I’m so glad you enjoyed Library of Lemons 🙂 I started writing books when I was about 23, I think. I did a correspondence writing course and practised lots of different styles of writing. I didn’t start submitting manuscripts until a couple of years later though, and I was 28 when my first book was published. Best wishes, and good luck with your book review! Jo x

  12. Hi! I have ordered two of your books and I can’t wait to read them! (I ordered Library of Lemons and Storm of Strawberries)

  13. Hi,
    What is your favourite book that you have written?
    By the way your my favourite author and your coming to my school soon!!

    1. Hi Gracie! I have two main favourites: Electrigirl because it’s been so much fun to work on, and Looking at the Stars because I’m really proud of what it says about imagination and the human spirit. But actually I’m really, really excited about my new book JELLY coming in June! And yay for coming to your school! Is it this week? I really hope the weather doesn’t ruin everything – the forecast is awful! Please do come and say hello if we get to meet! Jo x

    1. Hi Lola, as it was part of a series of four books, I knew that I wanted to do a story that tackled eating disorders. And lots of girls who are high achievers in a particular area feel they’re losing control in other ways – so that’s how I came up with Hani and her athletics. Jo x

  14. Hi Jo, was great to hear you talk at today’s ‘supported summer read’ event at the Leicester race course. I spoke to you briefly at the end of your talk and would love for you to visit our school in the Autumn term? Please get in touch at I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best wishes


  15. Hi Jo My name is Sophie and I can’t wait till you come to my school (Prestfelde) i’m so inspired by all your books they are so amazing two of my favourite books you’ve done is Storm of Strawberys and Jelly I’m just starting Libary of lemons but I bet it’s going to be amazing too! I hope I can meet at a school and I can’t wait!

  16. Hi Jo my name is Clara you are coming to my school next week to Prestfelde. I am so excited to meet you I have read all of your books and I love them! Your books are amazing! I have visual stress so your books really have helped me . I really hope that you can see me at school when you come. I am in 7 I am very tall and I have blond hair and Britt blue eyes. I hope I see you . Thanks for all of your amazing books. please look out for me!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Clara, ah that’s so amazing to hear my books have helped you to read! I can’t imagine what having visual stress must be like. I imagine it must make reading pretty hard going. You and Sophie must come up to me and say ‘Hello we are Sophie and Clara and we wrote to you’ and then I’ll know who you are! 😀 Jo

    1. Ooh, well, I get bored quite easily. I love making and creating things, and writing stories is something that can fit round other jobs. I did a short writing course and was completely hooked! BTW, I have deleted your email address because this page is public, but fear not, I shall see you next week anyway! And if you want to email me separately, you can to 🙂

  17. hi Jo this is Charlotte Taylor the girl who drew a picture on the storm of strawberry book and your coming into are school on Tuesday but i will be away at national lacrosse. As i am not there i would like to say i love your books and i have a question. what got you into writing and how do you get your ideas?

    1. Hi Charlotte – ah, what a shame I won’t get to meet you again! Mind you, I think it’s AMAZING to be playing in the national lacrosse competition!! Wow! I’m so glad you enjoy my books 🙂 I got into writing because I love making things, and I love words, and I was doing a job that was a bit boring, so I wanted a new challenge, and that’s how I got hooked on writing stories! As for ideas, they come from anywhere. Snippets of conversation, reading about real-life people, wondering ‘what if…?’ Ideas are the easy part! Turning them into good stories is the hard part. Good luck for next Tuesday! Jo

  18. Hi Jo this is Sophie and Clara we cant wait to meet you at school and say hello! Thank you for replying we enjoyed reading them. We both will email you privately just to let you know. We have another few question for you…
    How many schools have you visited? and What age did you start writing? and Who is inspired you to write?
    Thank you Xxx

    1. Hahaha! Some of your questions I’ll be answering when I come to your school 😉 but I’ll answer the one about school visits. I can’t be sure, but I reckon over the years I must have visited around 150 schools… Jo x

  19. hi jo my name is guy and i go to prestfelde so i will see you on tuesday and i have seen my class mates comments and i may not of read much of your books but jelly is very good oh yeah and sub to pewdiepie on youtube

    1. LOl that’s so funny a boy at a school I visited on Tuesday told me to subscribe to pewdiepie too!! You lot – if it isn’t Fortnite, it’s something else…!! I’m glad you liked Jelly 🙂 see you Tuesday! Jo

  20. WOW!!!!! that’s epic do you like visiting them? and whats your fav book you’ve written?
    Soph Xxx
    all this week we are making posters about all the people coming to are school Sophie and i are doing one all about you.
    Clara xxx

    1. Huzzah! I look forward to seeing your poster 🙂 I do like visiting schools, yes – that’s why I do it so much! I will tell you about my fav book on Tuesday 😉 save some questions for then! Jo

    1. Not at the moment, Sophie! No film company has yet optioned any of my books…but I’m having a go at writing a film version of Lemons myself, so you never know! Jo

  21. Hi Jo thank you so much for coming today it was great fun!
    i hope your feeling well cause Mrs M told me you weren’t feeling great.
    I going to try email you and please may you reply so i can see if you get the email.
    Just to check your email is

  22. Hi Jo! My English class began to read library of lemons at the beginning of our school year, and it really captivated me. Recently, you visited my school and after that, you signed my copy of Jelly. I just finished reading it. This book has to be one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read, as it spread a message of equality and self confidence. I’d love to see more of Angelica Waters, she’s a greatly charismatic character. Authors should aspire to write like you do, with your ever changing style and your flexibility stretching over many genres. I personally think that jelly has the potential to be a movie. Your musical abilities strive throughout the book. I would love to be so talented!

    1. What a lovely message, Lee, thank you so much for writing to me. I loved writing Angelica’s story. As for talent, well, although I’m lucky to be good at some things, I’ve also worked very hard to get even better – so remember that if you want something, you’re going to have to put in the hours to get it! It seems to me that you’re already a very talented writer. I’m really glad you’re enjoying my books and hurrah for the visit to your school! Have a great Christmas, Jo x

  23. Merhaba Jo. Bu gün Limon Kütüphanesi’ni okudum. Gerçekten çok akıcıydı. Okurken kaç kez ağladığımı bilmiyorum. 34 yaşındayım ve kitabı sayfamda paylaşıp, tavsiye ettim dostlara. Türkiye de yaşıyorum. Okul öncesi için bir hikaye kitabı hayalim vardı. Hikayesini bitirdim. Senin de okuyup fikrini almayı çok isterdim. Eminim yorumların çok şey katacak. Sevgilerimle. Nurcan

    1. Dear Nurcan, I’m so glad you enjoyed A Library of Lemons! And how lovely that you’re writing your own books too. Sadly I can’t offer to help because I don’t read Turkish! But I wish you very much luck with it 🙂 Jo x

  24. hello jo.
    I’m writing from Turkey destiny.
    I have now finished the lemon library.
    It was a really impressive book.
    I also love to read books, I hope I will have the opportunity to meet you one day.
    Take care of yourself.

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