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Jenny Nimmo Interview

Jenny Nimmo has written the hugely popular Snow Spider trilogy, as well as The Children of the Red King.
Courtesy of Random House

By: Sindy

Jenny Nimmo is the author of many popular children's books including The Snow Spider and The Children of the Red King. Get to know this children's author who writes her books in an old water mill that she calls home!

Sindy: How did your love of books start?
Jenny Nimmo: My father died when I was quite small, so my uncle used to buy me books and read them to me. I guess it started there because I liked to read and it became a great comfort, a good friend.

Sindy: As a child, you liked stories that gave you the chills. How come?
Jenny Nimmo: I have absolutely no idea whatsoever! I just found it more exciting to be mystified. I didn't like things based too much in reality. I like a mystery and I guess the kinds of books I was given were legends, folktales and myths.

Sindy: Many of your books, including The Snow Spider, are about magic and the supernatural. Why do you like writing about these sorts of topics?
Jenny Nimmo: I find it more interesting. They're the sort of books I read as a child and I enjoyed. I've read up on magic and I think it sets you free and it gives you hope. You can explore worlds you didn't know existed. It stretches your imagination, and I like my own imagination to be stretched and also the children I'm telling the story to. It gives you a sense of wonder. Every book that you pick up takes you a step away from your real world, but if you read a book about magic, it takes you an extra two steps.

Sindy: Which of your books is your favorite?
Jenny Nimmo: I love the Charlie Bone books. I'm very fond of Charlie because I based his character on my own son. My other favorite is The Snow Spider because I wrote that book for him and my other children when they were aged seven, nine and ten, so I put into that book all the things they asked me to put in and what they were interested in.

Sindy: What are you currently working on?
Jenny Nimmo: I just finished the fourth book in the Charlie Bone series. It's called The Castle of Mirrors, and I'm about to begin the fifth book, which will be called The Hidden King.

Sindy: What sort of message do you try to convey to your readers?
Jenny Nimmo: There's no particular message, but certainly in the Charlie Bone books, I'm trying to convey that you need friends to help you through adversity. I just like the thought of a group of people who were not effective by themselves, but if they work together, they can do almost anything.

Sindy: I understand you're passionate about children's literacy.
Jenny Nimmo: Yes, I feel that they get tremendous joy and benefits out of a book. I very often encourage children to read a book if they're having trouble with their grammar. I think it's much nicer to learn it by reading books and seeing how authors use grammar than it is to stare at a boring grammar book and do exercises.

Sindy: So you live in an old water mill. What's that like?
Jenny Nimmo: It can be quite scary because the river used to come in during the winter when the river got high, but we built an earthwork around the outside to stop it. So far, it's worked, but there are times when the weather gets really wild. We kind of live on the edge sometimes.

Sindy: Does living in that sort of environment help you write and come up with story ideas?
Jenny Nimmo: Yes, I think it does because it's very peaceful. There's nothing like the peace of the countryside, the quiet and the lack of distraction. It helps you to focus your mind.

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