Young Bedford Writers: Nicholas Goldwin speaks to Riseley author Julia Jarman

Nicholas Goldwin and Julia Jarman
Nicholas Goldwin and Julia Jarman

In our ongoing support of younger writers and future journalists, the Bedford Independent is delighted to welcome Milton Ernest teenager, Nicholas Goldwin to our pages.

The 17-year-old has already been receiving great praise for his writing talents and we’re proud to now feature one of his interviews.

We hope to be bringing more of Nicholas’ work to you in the coming months, but for his first piece he has spoken to renowned local author Julia Jarman

Julia Jarman, noted children’s author and resident of Riseley, has had a very interesting life.

Having had an early love of drama and reading, Julia dreamed of being a writer from the age of eight, but she became aware that it was very hard to make a living from writing alone.

However, while the dream of writing remained dormant, it never fully disappeared.

She went on to study English Literature and Drama at Manchester University, becoming a teacher, but she eventually dropped out to have and raise children, as was expected at the time.

During this period in her life, one of the things Julia most enjoyed was reading to her children.

This pastime led her to rediscover contemporary children’s literature, discovering a renaissance of the genre, becoming amazed and delighted at the new range of literature, including the author Joan Aiken, whose book Wolves of Willoughby Chase became a family favourite for Julia and her children.

This was what reawakened her own desire to write.

Her first idea for a story arose from an argument with her middle daughter Josie, during which she described an incident that occurred between herself and another girl.

Her daughter later proclaimed this as “the most interesting thing you’ve (Julia) ever said in your whole life”. Julia was encouraged and inspired to write it down, and it became the basis of her first book.

Julia also took inspiration from Riseley’s real-life criminals for her first book, such as a man who poses as a maintenance worker in order to steal electrical equipment.

Julia Jarman books
Julia Jarman still has 20 books in active print

With regards to influences on her writing, Julia has named her children as her primary influence. All three of her children (son Sam, daughters Josie and Mary) encouraged her to write about “real children” like themselves.

The Jessame Stories

Julia has said that her favourite book to write was The Jessame Stories because she made a new friend while writing them.

The friend, a young teacher named Vanessa Aduke Olusanya, was consulted by Julia about stories that she was writing for a reading scheme called All Aboard, and on whose life Julia’s stories are based.

Thanks to Vanessa’s input, Julia found the stories comparatively easy to write but not without challenges.

She worked hard to create interesting characters, not stereotypes, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, while at the same time using very few words so younger children would enjoy them.

Julia is also a believer in LGBTQ+ representation in children’s literature, as “all children should be able to see themselves in books. They should be represented.”

Today, Julia maintains a great deal of success, with 20 of her books still in active print.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected her career in small but noticeable ways. Julia has enjoyed working from home during these past months having used the time to finish her first as-of-yet unnamed adult novel.

However, she has had to substitute a school visit in the person for a digital video call, which she felt was disappointing as a self-proclaimed extrovert.

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