Liz Kessler Inspires Young Writers at The Portico Library


Multi-million selling children’s author, Liz Kessler, delighted fans as she shared some of her writing secrets in the magnificent, yet intimate, setting of Manchester’s Portico Library. The Emily Windsnap writer also read a sneak preview from the first chapter of her latest book which is out next month, entitled Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?
The event, which was brought to Manchester Children’s Book Festival by the Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research, saw Liz inspire the would-be authors in the room with a treasure chest full of keepsakes which related to her writing life. She invited members of the audience to remove objects from the box before going on to discuss their significance, all the while giving useful hints and ideas about how to be a successful writer.
“When you are writing a story or a book, it kind of exists already. The story isn’t something that you’re making up – it’s something that you have to find. As a writer, you have to prove yourself worthy, you have to show the story that you are the one who can tell it and the more that you give the story, the more it will give back.”
Life Changing
Returning for a third time to Manchester Children’s Book Festival, Liz, a former Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) student now living in Cornwall, is clearly a Festival devotee and speaks with fondness of her time in the city. We asked what it was that keeps her coming back to the Festival. She told us,

“I feel really proud to be part of this community. When I did the course at MMU it was the first year they had run the MA [in Creative Writing]. I was teaching sixth form at the time and I was having a nice life. But because I was teaching sixth formers, they were all going off on their exciting, creative courses and I got to the point where I thought ‘I want to do something,’ but I didn’t know what.

“Then, one day, we were in the Lake District and we were playing a game which was, basically, ‘name five lives you’d have, if you didn’t have your own.’ My five were ‘writer, writer, writer, writer, writer’ and it hit me – that was what I had to do. So, I quit my job and I applied for the course.

“It changed my life, doing that course. I’m getting quite emotional now. But it did change my life. It was really important. The MA sent my life in a different direction and it has carried on going that way ever since. It’s led me to the passion and the future career that I always wanted. So if I get asked to do anything to support the [Manchester] Writing School, be part of it, or recognise the community that all of this came from, then I’ll take that opportunity every time.”

After the event, we spoke to Liz Kessler fan, Lillie Hampson, aged 11. Clutching a freshly signed book, Lillie told us,

“I’ve learned where Liz gets her ideas from and how I can start to come up with my own. My favourite book of Liz’s is The Dream Maker’s Daughter. When I’m older I want to work with animals but now I’m thinking I might be a writer too.”

We are sure many other of the children present were similarly inspired.

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?  is available to buy from August 14th, published by Orion. For more great author events see




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