Is that your real name?
When I was born, a very big baby, I lay without a Christian name for three whole weeks.
My parents were so convinced I was going to be a boy – called William – that they hadn’t even thought of a girl’s name for me.
Eventually I was named Julia after a character in a book my mum was reading, but she can’t remember which book! I’d love to know.
When I started writing I wondered whether to use my maiden name, which was Julia Hudspeth, but decided to use my married name, Julia Jarman, because I like alliteration.
When were you born?
I was born on the 28th March 1946, just after The Second World War had ended.
My parents called me their peace-baby. I am peace-loving and I try to be peaceful, but I’m a fiery Arian, a ram who’s always bumping into things.
Where do you live?
I live in a village north of Bedford, about sixty miles north of London, England.
I bought my house because it was next door to a farm with pigs on it. I like pigs.
They’re intelligent and friendly and much cleaner than most people think.
When the farm was sold to a builder, who destroyed it and built an enormous house on the land. I was upset and wrote a book called THE GHOST OF TANTONY PIG.
It’s about a phantom pig who haunts the new house, but I really like the people who live there now.
Who do you live with?
For forty years I lived with Peter, my husband, who sadly died ten years ago.
Peter was my complete opposite but our different talents complemented each other and our marriage worked well.
I’m fascinated by people. Peter loved machines of all kinds – his traction engine, his steam locomotive, his Morgan sports car, his computer and mine.
When it went wrong he could usually put it right. The photo here shows me driving his loco.
My three children have all left home now, but they and my five grandchildren visit often and keep me on my toes.
They kindly say my books are good – but my roast dinners are excellent. My grandchildren have inspired some of my latest books.
Fortunately, my son Sam is good with computers, just like his dad, and he visits me a lot. He has created this website and is the webmaster.
Do You Have Any Pets?
I have been without a feline companion since the lovely Perdita died last summer.
Where on earth would I find another cat with her sweet nature?
I didn’t look because I thought I never would. But friends were more optimistic.
At the end of January I got a phone call.
A home was needed urgently for Penny whose companion Ethel had sadly died.
Would I go and meet her? It was love at first sight.
Within minutes Penny was on my knee purring.
She didn’t much like the car ride back to mine, but as you can see she quickly made herself at home.
Julia and The Time Travelling Cat
This is a picture of me a while ago with Oscar, also known as Mr Grey.
His real life exploits led me to write the Time Travelling Cat stories. I call the cat in my stories Ka.
She’s a female cat and you can read about her Egyptian adventures with her friend Topher in “The Time Travelling Cat and the Egyptian Goddess”.
Their second journey takes them to Elizabethan England, their third to Roman Britain. Their fourth to the time of the Aztecs and the fifth to Anglo-Saxon England when it was terrorised by Vikings. The sixth to Victorian times..
I often look after Daisy, my son’s Cocker Spaniel. She comes to stay with me when her owner is away working.
Perdita clawed her nose when Daisy was a pup.
She’s still wary of cats now.
What do you like?
Pigs and plays- I love the theatre – cats and computers, food, books, wine and gardening. My garden is in the picture at the top of the page.
I love growing food and eating it! I especially like trying out new recipes.
What did you like best as a child?
I loved reading – anywhere. I was the youngest of three children.
We lived in a small house and I liked to find a secret place where no one would disturb me, up a tree or in the churchyard – or on the loo!
I loved going to the library – to find more books, sometimes twice a day, despite a ferocious librarian who used to turn me away because I went too often.
She said I couldn’t take books out in the morning and return them in the afternoon, because I couldn’t read them so quickly.
But I could and did! I adored staying with my Grandma and being spoiled.
What did you hate most?
Washing up and tidying my bedroom. Boring!
What was your favourite book?
There were three at least. Ned the Lonely Donkey – a Ladybird book by Noel Barr.
Little Women (and all the sequels) by Louisa M Alcott. *I became a writer because I wanted to be like Jo March in all these books.
Bows Against the Barons – a brilliant book by Geoffrey Trease.
It’s about a boy who joins Robin Hood’s band of not-always merry men. I loved all Robin Hood stories. Fighting for a fairer world. He’s one of my heroes.
How did you become a writer?
First of all by reading. See above*, but I became a teacher after studying English and Drama at Manchester University.
Then I got married and had children. One day I told my daughter, Josie about something very naughty I’d done as a child and she said,
“That’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever said in your whole life. You should write that down. You’ve always said you wanted to be a writer really.”
So I did – in WHEN POPPY RAN AWAY, my first book.
Through writing it I discovered my Writing Recipe.
What Advice Would You Give to Aspiring Writers?
Read read read
Write write write
And don’t expect it to turn out right first time.
Most writers do many drafts. I do.
If you would like to know more, see Stephanie Nettell’s Author profile wrote at Books for Keeps or go to the English Association’s website to read the transcript of an interview with a teacher www2.le.ac.uk/offices/english-association/sigs/childrens-literature/authors/julia-jarman
If you would like to cook up a story, why not try the Writing Recipe?