It began with a name, as it so often does for me: The Audacious Birdy Jones. But who she was, what she looked like, what her story was were blurry and inchoate, still lost somewhere in the soup of story that swirls in my head like the everlasting porridge pot.
Then came the birth certificate, magpied from another book entirely but handed to Birdy fresh and new and fledgling itself, setting her off on an adventure to find herself? Or her name. Or perhaps, even, her audacity.
Her squawk of an accent belonged to another little voice, a girl from a film I once saw, and the kids in the city I’d met on a visit, all ordinary and amazing. Her face, though, and hair are straight from the silver screen, from a shorn and scrawny twelve year old just finding her feet.
Dogger’s a ragtag mix, part Artful Dodger, part Son of Rambow, and played in my head by a boy I once knew at school, pale and freckled but busting with swagger.
And the birds? Seen in back sheds from a misted train window, they came last of all, but are the start and the end and everything in between.
And together they grew shoots of idea until they twined into a complex tale, of a boy who is lost, and then found, of a father who’s forgotten what that means, and of an audacious girl who needs to find out where she comes from to know where’s going.
Where Do You Go, Birdy Jones is out today. And you can buy it here.
About Joanna Nadin
A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature.
I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name.
I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.