Who are you?

I'm a children's author who loves children's books! Everything from picture books for the under-fives, to young adult fiction; I’m always reading and can normally be found in a library or bookshop, searching for my next good story. I grew up in South London, where I live now. I’ve visited lots of cities around the world but London will always be my favourite – that’s why The Uncommoners books are set there. London's rich history makes it naturally mysterious; it is easy to imagine that the city holds many a magical secret.

What inspired you to write?

How did you become an author?

Before I became an author I was a children's bookseller at Foyles, Charing Cross Road – one of the world’s most famous bookstores. Here, I looked after the shop’s five not-so-deadly piranha fish as well as recommending children’s books to celebrities, royalty and even astronauts. After having the privilege of listening to children talk about their favourite books for many years, I started writing one of my own. I wrote The Crooked Sixpence in ten months on my lunchbreaks and the rest, as they say, is history! After leaving Foyles, I went to work at Tales On Moon Lane, an award-winning children's bookshop in South London. Now, I'm a full-time children's author!

One day, I was packing to go on holiday and I imagined how brilliant it would be if I could crawl inside my suitcase and arrive at my destination straight away. From then on, I started wondering what extraordinary things might be possible with other everyday objects – what if candles could make you invisible? Or buttons could treat illnesses? What if yoyos could generate tornados? The world of the Uncommoners developed from these initial ideas. Using the stories my grandparents had told me about the Cockney markets in London, I built the world of Lundinor. I also used traditional English nursery rhymes as inspiration - the talking bells in Lundinor came from the nursey rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons'.

What are your favourite books?

My favourite book of all time is Peter and Wendy by J.M.Barrie, a story about a boy who refuses to grow up. Being a writer for children is amazing because it means that I don't have to grow up either. I fell in love with the story of Peter Pan the very first time I heard it, and I have been obsessed with it ever since. I have watched the story performed as an original play, an adapted play, an opera, a musical, a pantomime and a ballet. I’ve collected over thirty editions of the book, along with a bronze statue of Peter himself, and I even have my very own Neverland cushion to keep me comfy when I'm writing at my desk!

I also love adventure stories with a twist of magic - the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus/Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan, the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge, The Explorer by Katherine Rundell... there are just so many!

Text & photos © 2016-2018 Jennifer Bell All Rights Reserved

Illustrations © 2016-2018 Karl James Mountford All Rights Reserved