Reader Q&A with Sharna Jackson

Author Sharna Jackson with reader Ava aged 8

The Good Turn is the exciting new middle-grade adventure from the award-winning author of High Rise Mystery - Sharna Jackson.

Ambitious and intrepid 11-year-old Josephine Williams is determined to find adventure outside of the internet and explore life beyond their cul-de-sac. When Josephine reads about real-life heroine Josephine Holloway - who set up the first Girl Scout Troop for Black girls in the USA - she decides that her and her friends have to do the same. But on their first quest, they stumble across an intriguing mystery, plunging them into adventure.

Some lucky Toppsta readers got to review The Good Turn before it comes out and they loved it! Ava aged 8 gave the book 5 stars. Here is her Mum's review:

"My daughter loved this book. She said it was great the whole way through... It is a modern story, and my daughter liked the positive friendship it showed. She didn’t want to put the book down, so she could see what would happen next"

Ava had the chance to ask the author some questions about the book and her inspiration. Read on for Sharna and Ava's Q&A, you can also read an extract of the book here and download free teaching resources here.

Reader Q&A with Sharna Jackson

reader Q&a with sharna jackson

1. Do you have a favourite place to be, when you are writing or trying to think of ideas for a book?

I’m always thinking about plots, people and the places where those stories could happen. 

I reckon I come up with some of my best ideas when I’m either in the shower or on a long morning walk. I live near two nice bridges, and when I cross them, I hope the ideas will flow like the river beneath them!

2. Did you get any inspiration from real people, for any of the characters in The Good Turn

I often use real people – or, memories of how they made me feel – as a starting point for new characters. But then, as I start writing, I really begin to understand who they are, what they want – that’s when they begin changing into the characters you meet in the book. In The Good Turn, I would say Josephine, Margot and Wesley were a mix of friends I had at primary and secondary school. 

3. Do you ever experience writer's block? And what would you do to overcome this? 

I definitely find it difficult to write sometimes. I might be tired, hungry or a bit scared of what I’m writing. Sometimes I want my writing to be so good, I get nervous about getting the words out of my brain and onto the page. At times like this, I’ll do a quick crossword and come back to it with a cup of tea. Then, I’ll write something that might not be great, and remember that that’s okay – I can always go back and change it. That’s the best bit about writing. 

4. I had never heard of Josephine Holloway, until I read your book, and I googled her. How did you come across Josephine? 

Also through Google, just like Josephine Williams! I used to be a Girl Guide myself, and I wish I had heard of her in those days. She’s very inspiring to me. 

5. The character Josephine in The Good Turn loves the internet. Was there anything you really liked or was interested in when you were a child? 

When I was a child, I loved doing a little bit of everything – which really annoyed my Mum and Dad! One week I was into photography, the next I was a fashion designer. The one thing that always stayed with me was reading. I read anything and everything. One of my favourite books was an old medical encyclopaedia. I loved looking up diseases and thinking about how to cure them. I was very… weird. 

6. There were no illustrations in the book (which didn’t make a difference to me). Did you decide straight away that you didn’t want any illustrations? 

Ah, there are some small illustrations in the final book – there’s a wonderful map of the street where the characters live, and each chapter has a beautifully-designed badge. But you’re right – apart from that, there aren’t any other illustrations in The Good Turn. I love books with illustrations, but for this one I wanted to focus on the words, and let your mind create the pictures. 

7. What is your favourite thing about living on a boat? 

My favourite thing about living on a boat is being close to the water, and close to the wildlife. I don’t do this often (because the boat is long and I’m a wimp), but I really like the idea of being able to remove the ropes and sail away. I like that my house moves, and every time it does, it feels really different.

8. What is your favourite book that you have written?

Ava! That is such a hard question! They’re all my babies and I love them all. I really, really loved writing The Good Turn, though. I really love the characters, I think they're all very brave and I hope their actions inspire others. 

9. Please tell me there will be another book featuring the characters from The Good Turn. Do you have any ideas in the pipeline? 

I don’t know if I can say that yet… but yes! I want Josephine, Wesley and Margot to be the main characters of their own books.

10. If you could meet the characters in your book, what would you say to them? 

This is an incredibly good question…hmmm. Okay. I would ask Josephine about her future career plans, and see where she’s up to with that. I know she’ll have a five point plan or something. I’d like to knock on Wesley’s door and just hang out with him and his family – make sure his Mum’s all right. Then I’d love to talk to Margot about her writing, and ask her what she’s working on now, but I’m sure she wouldn’t show me!

Reader Q&A with Sharna Jackson
Book pages Placeholder Book

The Good Turn

From the award-winning author of High Rise Mystery

'Brilliant; a joy to the very end' Katherine Rundell

'I love it!' Elle McNicoll

A sharp, funny middle grade adventure with themes of real-life activism and how to help others for fans of The Goonies and The London Eye Mystery .

Josephine Williams is a future-focused, internet-loving eleven-year-old who is desperate to explore the world beyond her cul-de-sac - and her browser.

When she learns about Josephine Holloway - a woman who started the first Girl Scout Troop for Black girls in America - she's certain she must start her own.

Enlisting her friends Margot Anderson and Wesley Evans, the trio begin their quest for their Camping Badge. Drawn to an abandoned factory nearby, they stumble across something strange. A square, ancient television and two tatty armchairs. Beside it, a wooden sideboard with an old photograph of a young, happy couple.

What is this? Who, or what, lives here - and why?

'An intriguing mystery adventure . . . bold and brilliant' Sophie Anderson

'A joy to read.' Alex Wheatle

'A funny, warm and thought-provoking celebration of community of all kinds' Anna James


First published


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