Three Times A Charm with Jemima Pett

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to people involved in children’s publishing. Today we have Jemima Pett with us. Jemima, can you share a little about yourself, please?

Once upon a time, I wrote a story, carefully made into a booklet about two inches high by one across, entitled “The Little Stream”.  Many years later I found it in the box in which my mother kept her most precious possessions. I realised I’d always been writing, but had never had a strong plot or set of characters, until my guinea pigs came along.  Fred, George, Victor and Hugo had personalities and stories that needed to be told.

I’d got my degrees in science, but had come out of college wanting to change the world, and I did a lot of voluntary jobs, some in strange places, before I got a job with the civil service.  That didn’t last long!  I worked in office jobs, writing newsletters and event reports in the evenings, I travelled round the country and wondered what it would be like to live in different places; I day-dreamed of exciting adventures and read books like they were going out of fashion – but mostly scifi and adventures, literary fiction is not me at all!  So when I got my characters and they wanted to be in an adventure I started writing my own tales, and my friends enjoyed them.  Usual story – they said, “Why don’t you get them published?”  So I did.

What a great story. Can we hear more about your children’s books?

The Princelings of the East (with the Princelings and the Pirates and the Princelings and the Lost City) is a trilogy telling the adventures of our heroes George and Fred.  Two innocents with a problem, they leave the security of their isolated castle and venture out into a world of castles, tunnels, pirates and lost cities.  They meet princes, innkeepers and travellers, become embroiled in shady business dealings, shipwrecks and totalitarian societies.  Despite being guinea pigs (cavies) they live much like you or I would like to, and have much more fun!  These are stories for capable readers of all ages; probably ten years and up will get most from them.

But it doesn’t stop there!  The trilogy turned into a series allowing other characters to get their own books, before the series winds up back with George and Fred achieving their ultimate goal – we hope!

Hugo tells his side of the story, in the Traveler in Black and White since he was cast as the villain in book 1 – and takes us to the darker side of the Princelings world (I’d give the later books a PG rating).  Humphrey escapes from the Lost City and finds a castle that welcomes his talents, and gives him a home and friends, something he never thought would happen (The Talent Seekers).  Victor grows up and has his adventures in foreign parts, tangled up with big business deals and characters who are not what they seem (Bravo Victor).  And Willoughby the Narrator… well, he’s just got started on his story!

I recommend my book to readers who like: Inkheart (Cornelia Funke), His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman), or if you’re older, the Pern stories by Anne McCaffrey

Okay, Jemima, now it’s time for the threes. Give us your top three answers to the following:

  • Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.
    • The Ninja Librarian by Rebecca M Douglass.  I love the off-beat way this dysfunctional town in the middle of nowhere starts to come together when a new librarian arrives.  It’s genius, as is the sequel, and I’m looking forward to more.
    • Skallagrigg by William Horwood.  I’ve discovered that not only is this out of print, but it was never published in the US.  I’m on a campaign to get it republished (If you want to tweet @penguinUKbooks that would be great, thank you).  It’s a combination of fable and social history, comparing the treatment of people with cerebral palsy at opposite ends of the 20th century. It’s delightful, horrifying, thought-provoking and heartwarming.
    • The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis – for older kids but mainly for adults; it’s the first in the Falco series – and he’s a private eye in ancient Rome, basically. Kojak meets Gladiator, or something.  Something much better, probably!

  • Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.
    • Arts graduates seem to think scientists can’t write fiction because we haven’t had time to read all those heavy books like Ulysses and Virginia Woolf.  Fortunately, scientists don’t see the evidence for lack of fiction-writing ability and just get on with it.
    • Every self-published writer has to learn not only to blog, but cope with upgrades, hackers and spam attacks.  Good luck.
    • Every writer, whoever they’re published by, has to do the majority of their own marketing.  Some just have a (bigger) budget.

  • Top 3 most admired people and why you admire them (in no particular order).
    • Roger Federer.  The tennis champ, in case you’re not a sports person.  He not only looks great on court, but he has great tips about success.  Focus, practice, and not fretting over the bad shot you just made, but looking to make the next one great, come to mind.
    • J K Rowling.  For all sorts of reasons involving how to cope with sudden fame and success, how to be nice to people, and how to stay sane.  And for showing that writers have more than one series in them.  Did you hear the story of when she went to the local dog rescue to get a greyhound or similar dog?  The usual donation is about £50, I think (for guinea pigs it’s usually about £30).  She gave a much larger cheque, since she could, and it was only afterwards that the dog people realised who she was!
    • Dolly Parton.  When I was young, Country singers were pretty much laughed at anyway, and with her assets and sequins and hair she came in for a lot of unkind press. But she knows what people like, and she’s a true professional in everything she does, and developed some great business ideas.  And every working woman should see 9 to 5 (which is always put on around midnight in the UK, so men of a certain age must think it’s a horror film) – and also Working Girl, which has similar themes.

All admirable people Jemima. Where can our tech savvy readers find you online?

Jemima blogs four or more times a week at http://jemimapett./com

Her book series have their own websites:
The Princelings of the East are at
The Viridian System series (scifi work in progress, book 1 - The Perihelix due out in the summer)
White Water Landings – her father’s memoirs of life in Africa in the 1930s running the ground stations for the Empire Flying Boat service

Follow Jemima on Twitter @jemima_pett, on pinterest JemimaPett, on Google+ jemima.pett , on Goodreads Jemima Pett

The Princelings Facebook page is

And her publishing imprint, Princelings Publications, has a website at  

Thanks for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm. Best of luck to you and your books.

GUESTS WELCOME!  I’m always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.


  1. Thank you so much for inviting me, Kai! Best of luck with your next book :)

    1. Glad to host you, Jemima. Thanks for the kind wishes.

  2. It's s so much fun learning about other authors. That's so sweet that your first story was your mother's prized possession. And look at you now. Congratulations on your books.
    Thanks, ladies, for a great interview.

    1. Thanks, Beverley! I looked at that story again the other day when I was doing some tidying. I had such nice handwriting then!

    2. It is a sweet story, indeed. Thanks for visiting, Bev.

  3. Hi Jemima! It's funny how we look back at our early works and scoff, eh? But without those experiments, we never would reach that later place.

    1. For that reason, I only look forward :)

    2. I think we should value our early work for what it is. It also helps us realise how much we've improved (hopefully). The other thing I find, especially with painting (which I do in fits and starts these days), is that you can see it with a stranger's eye, and get a better idea, often, of how good it is!

      But as Kai says, then you have to move on!

  4. I love science and I love the arts. I was good at both. Wading through all the business of writing... well, it can be a challenge.

    1. All the changes in the industry over recent years are great for us, but very tough to keep up with!


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