I love to visit schools, and with my background in performing and teaching (which includes working with pupils with SEN and EBD), not much fazes me! I adore talking to huge groups in school halls (the bigger the better!) and also enjoy working with class sizes on creative writing projects.
I am happy to talk to pupils from age 5 to 18 and also to university students. If you book me for a full day, I offer the following:
- one 1-hour highly engaging talk to as many pupils (Y3 upwards) as you can fit into the hall . I will tailor this talk to the age of pupils attending. There will be plenty of opportunities for participation and for questions!
- two 1-hour workshops, for one class size each (I have done workshops with larger groups but these are harder to do, so please discuss this with me). Workshops will involve writing ridiculous poems, creating instant stories, and using images to inspire ideas. For students in Y10 upwards, I offer a ‘strictly off the record’ workshop, which involves engaging with complex social issues that affect many young people today and creating a powerful piece of writing
- a sales and signing session. I don’t bring books myself, so most schools either use a local bookseller or order direct from publishers on a sale-or-return basis. I can advise on this if you need me to. It’s very important to me that books are on sale to the pupils during my visit. I know that many pupils don’t have a lot of money, but I have often found that children are more enthusiastic to buy books on the day than teachers had anticipated, and it is terrible to disappoint a child who can’t buy a book because it had been assumed he or she wouldn’t want to. For this reason I also encourage schools to ensure that all pupils are made aware of my visit in advance and can place advance orders so that sales do not depend on cash on the day.
I can be flexible on the above, so do ask if there’s something specific you’d like me to do – but please don’t ask me to work flat-out all day.
I’ll talk to anyone and everyone, from low to high ability and everything in between! I also have experience of talking to parents, teachers and librarians about inspiring and encouraging girls and boys to read for pleasure, and I regularly do events at literary festivals. My talks to university students have so far concentrated on the editing process and the professional relationship between author and editor.
As this is my job, I do charge for visits, so please don’t ask me to work for free. If you would like to book me, please use Authors Aloud, an agency that will take all the hassle out of the booking and correspondence process and ensure everyone gets all the information they need! You can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out my availability and rates (which are competitive).
“Thank you for being part of Banbury Literary Live for the fifth year running. You were amazing, as always.” Joanne Thorne, festival organiser
As of February 2023, I have published 49 books. Most of these are under the name Jo Cotterill but I have also written for older teens under the name Joanna Kenrick. I have been nominated for the Carnegie (three times), won the Coventry Inspiration Book Award, the North East Book Award, the Oxfordshire Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award. Shortlistings include the Lancashire Book Award, the Young Adult Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the UKLA Book Award.
I am Patron of the Oxfordshire Book Awards.
“Thank you SO much for coming in – the kids are still constantly talking about it and about how they can write stories with your technique. The teachers were buzzing afterwards too! I can honestly say that your visit had a huge impact and I think it will continue to for a long long time.” Jodie Brooks, Librarian, St Gregory the Great Catholic School, Oxfordshire