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Ten Questions with Jen Carney

A photograph of author Jen Carney holding the Secret Diary of B.U.G: a children's book featuring two mums.

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G is a must-read. The children’s book explodes with fantastic quirky doodles; an enthusiastic, chatty narrator; and a very strong sense of self.  Jen Carney markets the book as being perfect for reluctant readers. Page One has a ‘Should You Read This Book Decision Maker’ flow-chart: by the end, your child will not only be convinced to read on, they’ll be giggling too. This book is ideal for familiarising children with same-sex relationships as it features two mums. We asked Jen Carney ten questions…

 

  1. Why did you start writing/illustrating books for children?

Writing has always been one of my biggest passions. When I worked as a teacher, I loved seeing my pupils’ faces light up when I made up funny stories or drew them a doodle of what I’d done at the weekend. Words and pictures have the power to spark conversations, induce fits of laughter and, sometimes, inspire people to alter their view of the world for the better.

  1.  How did you get your book out into the world?

When my middle daughter read the first draft of The Accidental Diary of B.U.G., she told me she thought it was completely awesome and mentioned how much she wished all her friends had a copy. This filled me with enough confidence to try to get myself a literary agent. One literary agent told me she loved my work as soon as she’d read it and pretty soon after that, she sent if off to publishing houses. Astonishingly, quite a few were interested, and everything spiraled from there. 😊

  1. Why did you write this book? Why did you want to illustrate this story?

One day, my son asked me why the types of books he enjoyed (funny, illustrated ones) never featured ‘families like ours’. By that, he meant a regular family doing regular stuff, but with two mums (or two dads) at the helm. He’d been a pretty reluctant reader up until this point, so, when I failed to source one, I wrote this book to keep up his momentum!

It was important to me that the story remained illustrated when Puffin bought it because I’m a firm believer that illustrations and interactive pages make a book more dynamic, helping maintain children’s interest – particularly that of reluctant readers.

  1. Do you relate to any characters in your stories – which ones and in what way?

I’m very much like Billie! I’m not the best speller, but I love writing, doodling and inventing daft games. I always stand up for what I believe in and I’m a very loyal friend. Also, I admit, I deconstruct biscuits wherever possible!

  1. What’s your favorite book and why?

Gosh, I’m not sure I have a FAVOURITE! I read lots and usually enjoy most of what I read! As an example, the book I read this weekend was brilliant – The Amazing Edie Eckhart by Rosie Jones. It’s about a young girl with Cerebral Palsy navigating her first term at Secondary School. As well as being a thoroughly entertaining read, I found the representation of this disability really refreshing and quite educational.

 

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

That was a changeable feast! Age 7 – an author; 10 – a police officer; 14 – an actor; 16 – a teacher; 18 – an author. Apart from the police officer – which I’m sure I’d have been really bad at anyway – I’ve managed to achieve all these dreams!

  1. What do you want children to get from your books?

I’d love children to read The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. series for pleasure and enjoy it so much that they’re eager to read lots of books afterwards. I’d also be thrilled if children come away with a deeper understanding of how all families are different, everyone’s normal is different – and that’s okay.

  1. Best advice you’ve ever been given?

Praise in public, criticise in private.

  1. Finish this sentence for us…Reading from diverse bookshelves….

…will nurture empathy in curious young minds.

  1. A message to readers of your book?

Hello! Thank you so much for choosing my book. It’s a story about friendships and family, accepting differences and being proud of who you are. I really hope Billie’s words and pictures make you chuckle. If you enjoy reading it, you’re in luck because there are two more books in this series –  ‘Basically Famous’ is out too, and the third will be published in January!

PS OBEY THE BISCUIT LAWS!

 

We recommend other children’s books featuring same-sex relationships here: including two mums, two dads, two uncles…

Subscribe to our boxes here for more diverse children’s books.

Purchase The Accidental Diary of B.U.G here.

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