She has been an iconic figure in the world of children’s literature longer than you can even imagine so it’s safe to say my book-loving heart nearly burst with joy when I was asked to interview Dame Jacqueline Wilson.
That’s right, author of The Story of Tracy Beaker, Double Act, Dustbin Baby and pretty much every other book that shaped our childhoods.
The Story of Tracy Beaker was a book we all treasured as kids. We couldn’t help but fly through the pages to find out if Tracy’s dream of her mum rescuing her from The Dumping Ground would come true.
Wilson published a whopping 40 books before making her mark in the literature world in 1991 when she released The Story of Tracy Beaker so it will come as no surprise to hear that Tracy still holds a special place in her heart.
“Tracy is a character that stayed in my mind a lot. Recently, I’ve been writing about her as an adult because I very much wanted to show that even though you haven’t had very good parenting yourself. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be a fantastic mum.
“Tracy hasn’t changed character completely, she is still as feisty as ever but she adores her daughter and My Mum Tracey Beaker gives readers a chance to reconnect with her and find out what is happening at this point in her life.”
“That is what is so lovely about being a writer, you can live in your own life, then you can experience all other lives too.
“It’s nice to think about my characters as real people and to visit them in the present and see what they’ve been up to, Jacqueline added.
The author cares for Tracy so much that she is already working on a second book about the grown up Tracy Beaker. She couldn’t share too much about the upcoming book but Jacqueline revealed the story will focus on Tracy’s love life.
“Tracy is single and her daughter Jess is wondering about this. She dabbles in a bit of matchmaking, but that’s all I can say at the moment.”
Just like Tracy, Jacqueline’s other characters tackle big emotional subjects, whether that is homelessness, adoption or big family secrets like Mona in her latest book Dancing the Charleston.
The historical novel is set during the 1920s and Jacqueline believes readers will gain a lot from the tale.
“It was a decade of independent thinking,” she explained. “I think you get more out of a story when you’re not just thinking about modern YouTubers, you’re leading a life intently, the only way you commute with people is face-to-face.”
Lead character Mona helps readers see the perks of living in the moment, “Today you can order anything online and have groceries delivered, it’s a great convenience, but there was a rhythm of being sociable and having little chats with somebody that people tend to forget when they’re rushing around frantically.”
Jacqueline stressed: “Remember that this is the only life you’ve got and we may as well enjoy it.”
Her books became such a staple part of my childhood and guided me through those tricky young adult years. As an avid bookworm, Jacqueline says the comfort books offer her is second to none.
“For me, reading is such an important part of my life, but then again I’m older I’m not really interested in social media or care if people like something I’ve posted. It is easier for me.
"Reading a book is such a comfort, especially if you’ve got some big worry going on. You can lose yourself in a book. There have been times when I’ve been sitting in a hospital waiting room and my only way to cope is to read a book."
"If you read a book where the character is going through something similar or something you’re worried about it is so comforting. I think it is far more helpful than any form of self-help book."
A lot of Jacqueline’s fans have now grown up and many have children of their own. She laughed during our chat saying, “I’ve been writing for so long that now the people interviewing me, young mums outside the local nursery school, they all know who I am and have read my books.”
But will the legendary children’s writer ever pen a book for grown ups? “It is a very tempting idea. Recently so many people in their twenties say lovely things about the books they read when they were children. It is worth thinking about, you never know, watch this space.”
You can buy Dancing the Charleston by Jacqueline Wilson here.
Feature Image: James Jordan