All About Jo

jo_headshot_1Hello! 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 a husband and two daughters.

3. I love cheese. And chocolate. And monkey nuts. And CAKE.

4. I don’t watch scary films any more. I decided I would rather fill my TV hours watching nice and interesting things.

5. Despite being a scaredy-cat when it comes to horror, I do enjoy a good rollercoaster. Favourite is AIR at Alton Towers.

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. In 2015, I did a musical gig with some other authors and we loved it so much we have formed our own band, First Draft! We don’t do a lot of performances, but I LOVE writing new songs for us! (they’re mostly about books and writing, but sometimes I write songs about other things I like, like ice cream!)

7. I’m a writer now but I’ve had two previous careers: one as an actor and one as a teacher. I enjoyed both careers very much, but writing is where my heart lies.

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.

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33 comments

  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

    • 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 πŸ™‚ 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?

    • 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 πŸ™‚ Jo x

  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! πŸ™‚ 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

    • Hi Anya! Aww, what a lovely message, thank you πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ™‚ Jo x

      • 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!

      • 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.

      • 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 πŸ˜‰ Who knows what Aron might have said if the conversation had gone on? Maybe you could write that scene πŸ™‚
        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 πŸ™‚
    I know you might not see this given how long its been since the last comments but whatever… πŸ˜…
    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 πŸ˜…
    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 πŸ™‚
    So… yeah πŸ˜… thank you again!

    • 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

    • 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 πŸ˜€ 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

    • Hi Lana! I’m so glad you enjoyed my visit πŸ™‚
      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 πŸ™‚

      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!

    • Hello! And hi Grace! I’d LOVE to see your piskie! (Send me a photo to electricfruit99@gmail.com 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 πŸ™‚

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