Welcome to my website
I am an author of children's books and, under the name Jenny Spence, of adult fiction.
My children's books are Mr Shy's Shoes (1992) and The Tunnels of Tarcoola (2012).
If you wonder why there's such a big gap, it's because in between I had a whole career writing computer manuals. When you write manuals it's very important that everything is true and correct; but my real love is making things up, so I'd rather be a storyteller.
Click here to find out more about The Tunnels of Tarcoola on the Allen & Unwin website. You can also follow the My books link on this website for more information.
Past and present
Many years ago, I published a fantasy for younger readers - about 8-10 years old - about a shoe library. It was called Mr Shy's Shoes. In this story, a boy called Tim accidentally borrows a pair of shoes from a shoe library. As you would expect when a library is involved, there is a story connected to the shoes, and when he returns them and borrows different shoes he becomes caught up in different stories, some of them familiar and some of them very dangerous.
After a long period working out there in the real world, I returned thankfully to children's adventure with The Tunnels of Tarcoola, which was published by Allen & Unwin in 2012.
This year, under my other name, I published a crime thriller called No Safe Place.
After the publication of The Tunnels of Tarcoola I found I didn't want to say goodbe to Martin, Kitty, David and Andrea. I thought long and hard about where they might all be up to in their lives about six months after the events of Tunnels and what other trouble they might get themselves into. Eventally I came up with a plot for another adventure. It's called Crooked Leg Road. (Titles change, and this book was originally called Helping Hashim. Sine then the focus of the story has changed, and even the character of Hashim has evolved. He's now a mysterious boy called Skender.
My editor is working on Crooked Leg Road right now, and it is due out in May, 2014.
Meanwhile, I am working on a sequel to No Safe Place.
September 2013 I am happy to say that I have just won the 2013 Davitt Award (Children/Young Adults) from Sisters in Crime for The Tunnels of Tarcoola.The presentation dinner at the Thornbury Theatre in Melbourne was very exciting, and I got to talk to several other writers of crime fiction and mystery stories for adults and children.
Here I am being presented with my award by New Zealand’s Queen of Crime Vanda Symon
2012 A lot of this year was spent promoting The Tunnels of Tarcoola, finishing and editing No Safe Place and writing Crooked Leg Road.
I also revised another children's book I have written. It's called The Long Way Back and it's about time travel. I haven't got a publisher for it yet, but I really believe it's worth reading.
There have been some nice reviews of The Tunnels of Tarcoola, and I have been doing some personal appearances, courtesy of the good people at Shearer's Bookshop. I have to confess I really hate seeing myself on the screen, but if you want to you can watch an interview with me on YouTube by clicking on the image below. If you notice my look of horror, it's because I thought I was just getting my photo taken, then realised I was actually being interviewed.
Things that interest me
I like reading, mysteries, puzzles, playing around with computers and figuring out how things work. I like making things - all sorts of things - and working out how to make things. Although I live in the inner city - Balmain, in Sydney - I love the countryside. Up until last year we had a beautiful place on the Central Coast, near Macmasters Beach, with numerous birds and reptiles. I miss it, but we still share a hundred hectares in the bush in Central Victoria with several other people. A couple of years ago we agreed to protect our land there with a covenant, which is a legal agreement to preserve it as a wildlife habitat forever. I love animals, even snakes, though I don't get too close to them. At home we have an elderly tortoiseshell cat whose real name is Natasha, but we call her Puss.