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Last updated: 20 November 2007 1606 GMT
Interview: Jacqueline Wilson
By Martin Barber
Jacqueline Wilson in Norwich
Jacqueline Wilson at The Forum, Norwich

Top children's writer Jacqueline Wilson talks about her teenage drama Kiss, shares a secret about her OBE and drops a few hints about future plans for Tracy Beaker.

Watch her webTV interview with BBC Norfolk.

Jacqueline Wilson, one of the most famous children's writers of our time, is loved by young readers all around the world - especially girls.

Best known perhaps for her Tracy Beaker stories, Jacqueline always wanted to be a writer and wrote her first 'novel' when she was nine.

In 2004 she became the most borrowed author from libraries across the UK, a position she has retained ever since.

In November 2007, Jacqueline took a whistle-stop tour around the country (driven by Bob in his Mercedes) to talk about Kiss, a book that explores life as a teenager.

From falling in love and getting your first snog, to finding new friends and discovering that beer tastes rubbish - Kiss features Sylvie and Carl.

Best mates forever, Sylvie has always believed that they'd end up married to each other, but as they become teenagers things are starting to change.

Carl has a new friend, Paul, who is taking all his attention and he seems much less happy to be called Sylvie's boyfriend. Sylvie can tell his feelings have changed, but can she guess at the true reasons behind it all?

When Jacqueline's Kiss tour came to Norwich, she took time out ahead of her signing session to give an exclusive webTV interview to BBC Norfolk.

Watch: Jacqueline Wilson webTV interview

Video links on this page require Realplayer

She told Martin Barber what she hopes readers will enjoy about Kiss, owned up to a big secret about her OBE medal, why she just loves writing and the future for Tracy Beaker.

MB: Why did you decided to write a book that is for a slightly older reader?

JQ: Lots of girls who've been reading my books for years have said 'Do write an older one' and just every now and then I decide to do this.

The characters in this book are 13 going on 14, but at the time of life when you fall in love for the first time.

I think that all of us… nothing beats the intensity of falling in love for the first time and yet generally that sort of love doesn't have a happy ending and I don't give my poor kids in this book a happy ending either.

I try and have happy and funny moments, but I try to be truthful too.

MB: Why did you decide to write a book about this quite challenging time in a young person's life?

JW: I think it's because some of my most vivid memories are of myself at that age. It's so difficult to be young. It's so exciting, yet it can be so awful too. It's a very interesting time of life to write about.

When you're that age you think you're the very first person in the world to go through all this agony. For any of us, if you love somebody passionately and they don't love you back the way you want them to it's awful.

MB: Own up, how much of your own teenage years are woven into Kiss?

JW: Bits and pieces. I'm not exactly like any of the characters. I'd love to have been Miranda, one of these glamorous naughty girls who always does dreadful things and doesn't seem to care.

I wanted to be like that, but I was an earnest, shy, literary little girl like Sylvie [who tells the story] I suppose.

Martin Barber interviews Jacqueline Wilson
Jacqueline Wilson drops in for a webTV chat at The Forum, Norwich

MB: At one point in the book they're playing Snog Spin, so who did you play that with?

JW: Truthfully, and isn't this boring, I don't think I ever did. I think Snog Spin is such a horrible word.

I suppose my only similar experience is playing things like kiss chase and the boy that you always wanted to run after you never did, it was always the one with the runny nose and grubby clothes - such is life!

MB: Was it important to you for the book to reflect on the way we live life today?

JW: I like to try and keep myself up to date. It's quite an effort and I'm a technophobe. I certainly, even if I was inclined too, couldn't indulge in internet dating, I wouldn't have a clue how you did it - but I know people do.

I wanted to show children and teenagers reading the book, just because you think your parents are way past it, they're not.

I think Sylvie's mum is quite brave, she's a bit fed up and has had a raw deal in life but she's doing something about it now which is great.

I do see the point of mobile phones, nothing else though.

MB: So whose number have you got in your mobile?

JW: Oh nobody exciting, you'd get my mum. Inevitably when you become reasonably well-known you do meet other people and it's great fun. This year I met George and Laura Bush, but they're certainly not in my phone.

I'm not somebody that knows loads and loads of celebrities. I do know JK Rowling, not desperately well and she's so nice.

Always, if ever we're together people get so excited and ask are we going to get on. Journalists ask me 'Don't you wish you could have been so successful?'

I can be quite difficult if somebody in the same genre is more successful than me - but because her books are so different and I really admire what she's done - no problems at all. Besides which, I think Jessica her daughter used to like my books.

MB: I think it's interesting that your readers have really fallen in love with you, the author.

JW: I think they see the inner child inside me, because although they can see I'm grey-haired and possibly the same age as their grandmas, they relate to me like I'm a 10 year old.

MB: Is that why you wrote Totally Jacqueline Wilson - very much a guide to your life?

Rings on Jacqueline's fingers
Jacqueline Wilson is well-known for her giant rings

JW: It seemed a fun thing to do. Lots and lots of children write in and want to know everything about me.

They're very interested in Nick Sharratt, the illustrator, too so we thought it would be fun to have a glamorous gift book a little bit like a Christmas annual.

It's crammed full of articles about me, how to dress like me, is all about my funny rings.

MB: You have a passion for getting children to read, you got an OBE for it. So how do you keep young people on the written page when there's so much other choice from say TV or the internet?

JW: I think children, no matter what, like a little bit of human contact.

If adults when children are very young read aloud to them and you build in time in the family, and then you progress like that I've never known a child yet who doesn't enjoy being read to. Once they get the reading habit, I think that turns them into readers for life.

Yes, you can still love watching television and playing computer games, but I think once you've made a child a reader, they'll stay a reader and that's great.

MB: I mentioned your OBE for services to children's literature. Where do you keep it?

JW: I'll tell you a secret, which always sounds silly when you say that publicly, but I've lost it!

I moved house and I thought I'll put this in a safe place, and I've put it in such a safe place I can't find it! I have a certificate to say that I actually got it, and it was very pretty, but no - it's not there.

I was children's laureate for two years and there you get a big silver medal and I do have that, and I do wear that. But my OBE, no - I'm not quite sure where that is!

Dani Harmer as Tracy Beaker
Actress Dani Harmer in CBBC's production of Tracy Beaker

MB: You're well known, of course, for Tracy Beaker, can we expect to see more of her?

JW: It's 17 years since I wrote it and I had no idea that now, when I wander the streets of Kingston where I live, they'd shout 'Tracy Beaker'.

What's been so lovely about that book, about a child stuck in a children's home and desperate to be fostered, is that so many children in care have got in touch with me and said they feel so much better about their lives.

Now children at school say 'You're so lucky to live in a children's home' and just for their status to be raised a little I think is fantastic.

I think it would be fun to find out about Tracy in her late teens and what kind of person she'd turn out to be.

And then we could actually carry on with Tracy Beaker Young Mum, Tracy Beaker midlife crisis - you could have great fun with it.

It's a might, it's something I play with - but I certainly feel there's a lot of juice left in Tracy still.

Watch: Jacqueline Wilson webTV interview

Video links on this page require Realplayer

Jacqueline Wilson appeared at Jarrolds, Norwich in November 2007. Kiss is published by Doubleday at £12.99.


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See also


Watch: Jacqueline Wilson webTV interview

Video links on this page require Realplayer

On this website

Sarah Jane Adventures

Meet Potter's Percy Weasley

CBBC's Jake Humphrey at RNS '07


Newsround: Jacqueline Wilson in the hotseat

Tracy Beaker

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