That’s how Jacqueline Wilson was known at primary school, and it’s sort of how we still know her, wouldn’t you say? She just had a bit in the middle (secondary school) where her talents weren’t properly appreciated. It’s hard to grasp now, how much Jacqueline hoped for good marks, and never got them.
These days teachers are more likely to say ‘this reads too much like Jacqueline Wilson,’ when fans write like their favourite author. It’s not a bad thing. Far better to write like someone else, than not write at all. Or read. Jacqueline asked how many of us are bookworms. Quite a few.
It was JW day at mcbf on Tuesday. We arrived at MMU nice and early, but most fans had beaten us to it. The photographer reckoned Jacqueline must already be there, when she ‘ruined it’ by arriving right then, quickly getting besieged by fans.
Quite how special she is, is something you realise when you notice how the girls (it is mainly girls) have dressed up for the occasion. They behave as though it is party time, which of course it is. And I had to admire the boyfriend of the older girl in front of us. Not all young men would willingly go to this kind of event.
For a girl who sometimes hid in the lavatory to write stories in her Woolworth’s notebooks, Jacqueline has come far. She told the audience how she hoped to turn into someone different once she started secondary school, but realised that you don’t magically become another person.
And then we got a quick summary of her career with D C Thompson, writing stories for them as well as faking it with her readers’ letters and horoscopes. Very good for learning fiction writing. Living in a linen cupboard for three months was the best time of her teenage years.
The third book about Hetty Feather will be published in September, and after that we can expect a book set in the 1950s; ‘another historic’ period… Her cat Jacob is one of the main characters in that one.
At times it can be hard to get an audience to ask questions, but not here. So many hands in the air. If Jacqueline wasn’t an author, she’d like to run a bookshop. She’d have a shelf for all the rabbit books. At school she cheated by copying someone else’s maths, even though she was warned that Jesus would know about it.
There had to be a ticketed system for the book signing, and only the first two hundred were allowed to queue for this special moment. It’s good to see so many battered and much read books, and it always amazes me how Jacqueline can be so good with each and every fan. Posing for photos and chatting, she will have been there for most of the rest of the evening. Lovely publicity lady Naomi had checked the hotel would still serve food when they returned.
I hope they made it, because when we left, Jacqueline was still doing what she does best – making her fans feel special.
(I know. The books are really good, too.)