Jan and Sara's blog

Please get in touch if you have any comments or questions


Attack of the Snails
Thursday 03 August 2017

Attack of the Snails is out in September. It's part of Oxford Reading Tree Story Sparks and has wonderful illustrations by Shahab Shamshiraz.

This book was inspired by Sara’s husband John and his battle with the snails in the garden. John likes to grow runner beans. He likes to eat runner beans. But snails like to eat the blossom, leaves and stalks of a runner bean plant which means no runner beans for John to eat.  And snails come at night when John is asleep.

First John tried sticky bands around the pots but the snails managed to get past these. Next he tried a net but they slithered through. Then he read that eggshells always stop snails. They don’t! Finally he dug a moat and put the pots of beans on an island. At last his runner beans were safe! Yum!

Clever Children
Monday 26 June 2017


We love meeting our readers and seeing how much fun they get from reading.  They certainly keep us on their toes with their questions and comments. It’s great. Here’s a selection from our school visits.

One parent told us her son had been very excited to meet the ‘book orphans’!

When we were chatting to a class, a pupil asked us how old we were. The teacher told him it wasn’t polite to ask that question. The pupil thought for a moment and then asked Sara how old she was when she started writing children’s books. On hearing the reply, he then asked, ‘How long ago was that?’

We’d had a wonderful session with one class and we congratulated them on their amazing ideas. We said that if we came back in ten years, we’d bet that they’d all be writers. One pupil piped up – ‘But you’ll be dead then!’  

Samuel Squeaks' Diary
Thursday 01 June 2017

We're writing a new Fiction Express story!  A new chapter will appear each week - and the first episode is live on Friday 2nd June. If your school has signed up to Fiction Express you can follow the exciting adventures of the fearless rodent Samuel Squeaks as he braves the Great Fire of London and writes all about it in his diary. Most people have heard of the Great Fire of London. It happened in September 1666 after a very hot, dry summer. We think that the fire began at a bakery in Pudding Lane. Lots of the buildings in London were made of wood and there was no fire brigade in those days so the flames spread very quickly. We know a lot about the fire because a famous man called Samuel Pepys kept a diary at the time. That's a bit like doing a blog today. You might have heard of Samuel Pepys – but you won’t have heard of Samuel Squeaks. He was a London mouse who wrote a diary too. He thinks it’s much more exciting than Mr Pepys’s diary.

Gruesome research
Friday 19 May 2017

Some of our books have needed a lot of research. We try very hard to get our facts right. We use the internet and books but whenever possible we visit the places involved. We’ve had some great visits. The most gruesome was when we were writing Intrigue for the Lady Grace Mysteries. We went to the Clink Prison Museum on the south bank of the river Thames in London.

It was quite a business being a prisoner at the Clink. You even had to pay to have your shackles put on. Then you’d be thrown into a room stuffed with bodies, dead and alive. It was filthy although you might be lucky and get there just after the Thames had flooded, washing away all the muck. If you managed to survive your sentence, you had to pay to have your shackles taken off again!

When we came to write the scene where Lady Grace finds herself in the Clink, we were able to conjure up the sounds and sights of the filthy, deadly prison.

 The Clink is well worth a visit even if you’re not writing about a Tudor girl detective!