“Hi Jo, just to say once again thanks so much for a great day, the girls loved you. I’ve rarely seen such a spontaneous expression of delight. You are a rock star in the writing world! It was such a pleasure to have you in and I hope you can come and visit us again soon!” Mairead Duggan, Mount Carmel, Dublin
“At her talk, Jo set our hall on fire and there was not one of the 360 students attending who wasn’t totally engaged with her performance. As an author Jo is creative and magical, but as an ex-teacher and ex-actor she has the performance skills to bring her words alive.” Lynne Cooper, Burford School
“Jo’s visit and her talk are still resonating at Didcot Girls’ School. She is a very engaging and entertaining speaker. The talk was lively, vibrant and inspiring and we never had a library so full of students waiting for book signing after the talk.” Gordana Djakov, Didcot Girls’ School
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 in KS2, KS3 and KS4 and also to university students. For my younger readers I offer an energetic, highly-interactive presentation based on my series Electrigirl, which covers the basics of electricity as well as the story of girl-turned superhero! For students in KS3, I usually talk about the writing process using a hilarious Powerpoint photo-story. However, I am also happy to discuss a school’s individual requirements and to tailor my visit as much as reasonably possible – for example, if your school has a high number of refugee children and you would like me to talk specifically about my book Looking at the Stars. All talks/presentations last one hour, which includes plenty of time for questions – of which there are always hundreds!
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 don’t supply my own books but schools can either buy in copies on sale or return direct from publishers (both OUP and Piccadilly, my most recent publishers, offer excellent rates to schools), or – the easiest option – ask a local bookseller to bring/supply stock on the day. It goes without saying that I am happy to sign all books that are brought to me (even, as has happened on rare but hilarious occasions, ones I didn’t write…)!
As well as a talk/presentation to a big group, I offer creative writing workshops, which focus on unlocking creativity (don’t ask me to do SPaG stuff, cos I don’t do that) and encouraging students to ‘think outside the box’. These work best in a session no shorter than 60 mins, and with one class size. The school needs to provide blank white paper and writing implements, but I will bring all other resources.
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. Please email me on email@example.com for my rates – they are competitive and I am very happy to discuss options without any pressure to book me!
As of May 2016, I have published 25 books, with seven more due out in 2016-2017. I have written books for upper primary and young teens as well as older teens (and dyslexic and reluctant readers) under the name Joanna Kenrick. I have been nominated for the Carnegie, won the Coventry Inspiration Book Award, the North East Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award; and been Highly Commended in the Oxfordshire Book Award. Shortlistings include the Lancashire Book Award, the Young Adult Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the UKLA Book Award.
I run the multi-author blog Girls Heart Books, and am Patron of Reading at Burford School and at Didcot Girls’ School, both in Oxfordshire.