Ten Questions with Jacqueline Wilson

Over the last two years, we’ve been working closely with Jacqueline Wilson on the portrayal of Care Experienced people in her work. In particular, Tracy Beaker.  

If you pick up a copy of We Are The Beaker Girls, you’ll see it is dedicated to Who Cares? Scotland members thanks to our work on the book.  

Recently, CBBC announced they were bringing Tracy Beaker back to the screen. To celebrate, we got together with Jacqueline Wilson and asked her ten questions submitted by Who Cares? Scotland members who attended our digital festival – Share the Love.  

What made you want to be a writer? 

 I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember.  I used to make up stories before I could write them down – and then as soon as I could print with a pencil I started making little ‘books’ and writing my stories in them.  I was writing all through my schooldays, but no-one thought I’d ever make it as a writer.  However, I got a job as a junior journalist on a teenage magazine published in Dundee – and I’ve been earning my own living as a writer ever since.  

What inspired you to write Tracy Beaker? 

I saw a page of children in care wanting to be fostered, and I wondered what it would feel like to be ‘advertised’ in this way.  Almost at once, my Tracy popped into my head and her story practically wrote itself.   

Do you base characters in your book on people you’ve met.  Are any Tracy Beaker characters like you? 

No, I always prefer to make people up.  Then I feel free to write them any way I want.  

What made you want to revisit the story of Tracy and bring Jordan into the story? 

I’ve often wondered what Tracy would be like grown up, and whether she’d be a good mum.  I did also wonder whether she’d ever consider fostering herself.  

Was it difficult to write Tracy after so many years had passed? 

It was surprisingly easy actually.  I didn’t really have to think about it.  Tracy – and now Jess – are almost like family to me.  

From My Mum Tracy Beaker to We Are The Beaker Girls, we see a significant change in Tracy’s priorities and aspirations.  What do you contribute that too? 

 Well, I certainly took on board the comments and questions from the Who Cares? Scotland group that I met in Edinburgh!  

Do you think here is more for you to explore with the Beaker girls? 

 Yes, I’ve got a few ideas – and I’d love to see how Jordan gets on living with the Beaker family. 

You have written so many great books, why do you think Tracy Beaker is so popular? 

 I think Tracy is so popular because she’s spirited and funny and determined and very good at standing up for herself! 

 Which authors and books do you enjoy? 

I love the American authors Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Strout and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and some Victorian classics like Great Expectations and Jane Eyre.  I think Katherine Rundell writes great children’s books – and there’s a lovely newish book about foster children called Snow Foal by Susanna Bailey. 

What advice do you have for any aspiring writers? 

 Read a great deal to enrich your imagination and improve your vocabulary, and maybe keep a diary to get into a regular writing habit.  Good luck! 

With thanks to Scottish Local Authorities, funding partners and donors who make our work possible.