Monday, November 21, 2011

Weird Things You Learn When Writing by Jo Cotterill

I'm so pleased to welcome lovely Jo Cotterill to my blog today! Hello! Jo writes the super-sweet Sweet Heart series of books, of which the fourth book, Ice Dreams, was recently published. These books discuss friendship, families, first love and relateable girls for readers 10 and over.

Jo is also one of the contributors to Girls Heart Books, a really wonderful collaborative author website with loads of authors writing daily blog posts about fab books for young girls. To find out more about Jo or the Sweet Heart series, please do visit the following websites:

Many people think that ‘research’ is boring. Of course, if you’re researching something you don’t care about, then I guess it could be very boring. But when you’re writing a story, you often need to find out things in order to put them into the book. For example, when I wrote ‘Ice Dreams’, I needed to find out quite a lot about ice skating, so that I could write about practising. Do you know which side of the blade you use when taking off for a Lutz jump? No, neither did I, so I had to find out.

Similarly, when I was writing ‘Forget Me Not’, I came up with a plot in which someone broke into a garden centre at night and sprayed all the plants with something that killed them. ‘Acid’ I thought at first – but that had problems. Where do you get acid from? The only time I’ve seen acid is in school science cupboards, which are firmly locked with staff keys. My family has got used to being asked odd questions, so when I said to my dad, ‘What could destroy a plant within minutes of being sprayed, but is easy to get hold of?’ he said helpfully, ‘Caustic soda’ which is
something you use for cleaning drains and is very nasty stuff but you can buy it in the shops!

Other weird things I have learned whilst writing:

• people who work at animal sanctuaries are usually quite badly paid

• synchronised swimmers are among the fittest athletes there are

• an ‘olly’ is one of the first tricks you learn on a skateboard

• angioplasty is a type of heart surgery where the doctors insert a little balloon into an artery to clear a blockage

• If a vandalism attack causes more than £5000 worth of damage, the investigation will be handled by the Criminal Investigation Department (plain-clothes detectives) not uniformed officers

And if you’re having a heart attack, you should chew aspirin, not dissolve it in water or swallow it. Oh, and the new Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park in London can hold seventeen and a half thousand people.

Finding out weird and wonderful things is a great perk of being a writer. And people are usually only too willing to help. I have visited the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary and interviewed the manager (for ‘Model Behaviour’, out Feb 2012) and also been to watch a practice session of the fantastic British Synchronised Swimming Team (for ‘Deep Water’, out June 2012) among other fab things.

I am SO LUCKY to be a writer, and I can’t wait to see what exciting new weird and wonderful facts the next book brings!

Jo Cotterill writes the romantic series ‘Sweet Hearts’ for girls aged 10 upwards. The latest in the series, ‘Ice Dreams’, was published in September 2011


  1. Wonderful post, and fascinating facts! I love research (and I need to catch up on this series!)

  2. Cool facts! I agree that research is only boring when you don't care about the subject - last week I had to write an essay for school about research... so I did research about research! ;)

  3. Such a great post, I love weird and wonderful facts.

  4. I love this post so much, thank you Jo! I think learning these fun little facts would be my favourite part of writing :)


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