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About Julia Jarman

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Frequently asked Questions.

What is your real name?

Julia Jarman.  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 war had just 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, in 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?
Till recently I lived with Peter, my engineer husband, but sadly he died two years ago.  Peter was my complete opposite but we complemented each other brilliantly, so our partnership worked really well. I'm fascinated by people. He loved machines -  his traction engine, his steam locomotive,his Morgan sports car, his computer and mine. When it went wrong he could usually put it right.  My three children have all left home now, but my five grandchildren visit - LOTS - and keep me in touch. They all say my books are great - and my roast dinners are excellent - and they 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 too.
Do you have any pets?

I have a beautiful black cat called Perdita. I put all my pets into my books so I can remember them after they've gone. Ka, the cat in THE TIME TRAVELLING CAT series, is a mixture of three of my cats, Mr Grey, Ms Mitten and Mrs Gingerbits.. Ka has the wandering nature of Mr Grey, the super-intelligence of Mrs Gingerbits and the affectionate nature of Ms Mitten. We used to have a lovely mongrel dog called Tramp. He's Cerberus in my book OLLIE AND THE BOGLE.  Julia with The Time Travelling CatThis is a picture of me with Oscar, also called 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 Alfie, my daughter's Afghan hound.  he comes to stay with me when his family go on holiday. Perdita puts up with him, but only just.

What do you like?

Pigs and plays- I love the theatre - cats and computers, food, books, wine and gardening. 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 intersting 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.

Have you any advice for would be 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.  How to Improve Your Writing.

If you would like too 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?

Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 February 2015 12:38 )

'INSIDE' from the 'Inside'.

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By J A Jarman


Gerard McGrath finds himself

experiencing a burgeoning and profoundly disturbing sense of retrospective deja vu,  yet commending and recommending the

book without reservation.

It is incumbent upon me to preface my review in acknowledging that, given personal experiences, I found it difficult to be objective as readers can expect a person to be in reviewing this book.  The salutary tale told in ‘Inside’ is that of Lee who, aged seventeen is rightly convicted and sentenced to a stint in a Young Offenders Institution.  Having served two terms of Borstal back in the sixties, it did not necessitate much deliberation for me to decide to review J A Jarman’s compelling novel.  I admit to a heightened sense of curiosity but nothing vicarious; simply something of a compare and contrast exercise. The more I read of ‘Inside’ the more I experienced an exponentially burgeoning sense of retrospective deja vu swamping me which I found profoundly disturbing, so much that I had to put the book aside and return to it on more than three or four occasions.

Certainly, the highly accomplished vividly descriptive writing did not engender any rose-tinted nostalgia within me.  Rather, a farrago of emotions afflicted me with anger and frustration vying with sympathy and empathy: the power of the pen indeed - nicely done JA Jarman.

I was a callow, naïve and equally guilty sixteen year old the first time I was sent to Borstal so felt capable of a certain sense of empathy for Lee before I read the first page of what proved to be a graphic, moving and powerful work of its genre.  Many older prisoners will remember that Borstal training preceded YOIs as a means of exacting retribution and ‘rehabilitating’ young offenders.  What such a sentence entailed was dependent upon being allocated to an open or closed institution.  I did time in both categories: Hewell Grange by way of an open Borstal and Dover by way of closed, the latter the Kafkaesque nightmare experience.  I digress.

The dilemma Lee faces is one that will be all too familiar to those of any age who can recall their first experience of incarceration and who amongst us can forget it?  Lee is compelled to learn and learn quickly the written and unwritten rules of the game, the laws of the jungle he now resides in. Self-preservation and survival are everything.  The diametrically opposed written rules of the establishment and the unwritten rules of the perverse criminal sub-culture of his fellow prisoners are soon assimilated.  Lee learns what every seasoned prisoner knows: there are many contradictory lessons too often hard-learned.  Marching anonymously behind two flags simultaneously as so many prisoners do, vaingloriously trying to maintain the approval of staff and fellow prisoners alike requires a Machiavellian-like capacity for subterfuge and disguise any politician or thespian would envy.

 Probably prioritising wisely, lee first learns the unwritten rules of his fellow prisoners, identifies the hierarchies and the pecking order; who are the predators and the preyed upon.  Astutely he identifies that what are regarded as luxuries from the world outside buy much more favour (do they ever?) with the rival gangs who constantly test his supposed loyalty. 

The problems Lee faces are compounded when his mother despairs of and disavows him; advising his girlfriend to do likewise.  Lee is under siege emotionally but recognizes he is on the road to perdition and in danger of becoming a career  criminal.  Will he choose to take responsibility for his life, be proactive in his own cause and bring about a change for the better?

I found ‘Inside’ to be more about the triumph of Lee’s hope and perseverance over adversity than a limited expose of YOIs.  Myriad novels and autobiographies have been written about life behind bars.  Most of which are little more than variations on a theme; read one you’ve read them all.  ‘Inside’ differs because J A Jarman does not glorify that which is decidedly inglorious.  Too many ex-cons who pen autobiographies ad nauseam betray themselves as what they are; legends in their own minds who need to avail themselves of reality checks and sage counselling.  Little perception is required to recognise ‘Inside’ is more than a read-worthy novel.  It is a reality check and sage counsel.  Without reservation I commend and recommend it.

altInside by JA Jarman is available in all good bookshops and from Amazon price £5.99.

ISBN 978-1-84270-977-1

Gerard McGrath is currently resident at HMP Haverigg.

Published in Insidetime.  January 2010.



Last Updated ( Friday, 06 April 2012 20:35 )

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