Jennifer’s tasty stew is a treat for readers

Author Jennifer Burkinshaw, who has a story published in the book Animal Stew.
Author Jennifer Burkinshaw, who has a story published in the book Animal Stew.

A MUCH-loved family pet has provided the inspiration for a new short story for children by Clifton author Jennifer Burkinshaw.

Jennifer, who is in the third year of an MA in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, is delighted that her story ‘Pup 6 Writes Home’ is included in a new anthology ‘Animal Stew’, aimed at children aged from seven to 11.

The inspiration for the story comes from Millie, the Burkinshaw family’s 16-year old sheepdog.

“Millie is a little bit cheeky and rebellious - just like the dog in the story. I decided to base my story around the kind of letters a homesick puppy might write back to its parents after going to a new home,” said Jennifer.

Six years ago Jennifer had treatment for breast cancer and the experience of surviving a serious illness made her re-assess her priorities and concentrate on trying to make a success of her writing.

Now she has a play and a number of short stories under her belt and is working on a novel for teenagers as part of her course.

“I really enjoy writing for teenagers,” said 47-year-old Jennifer. “It gives you the chance to write stories that are dramatic and action-packed. You have to grab the readers’ attention from the start and keep their interest.”

A former English and drama teacher, Jennifer lived with her family in Paris for four years and still loves the opportunity to travel when she can. This year she has visited the US, France and Italy with her husband Richard.

“It has always been my ambition to get my writing into print and doing the course in Manchester has really helped.

“It’s been a steep learning curve but the tutors really make you hone your writing. Sometimes we take their suggestions on board, sometimes we resist them and stick to our guns - but it’s always an interesting process.

“Having the ideas is the easy part - the difficulty comes in finding the best way to tell the story. And my novel, which is about 60,000 words long, has taken a lot of hard work.”

Jennifer is one of nine students to have her stories included in the anthology. The book is the brainchild of Sherry Ashworth, senior lecturer in creative writing, who said: “These students are the children’s writers of the future.”

‘Animal Stew’ will be launched as part of the prestigious Manchester Children’s Book Festival on Saturday, June 30, when the authors will read aloud to a young audience.

Jennifer is also hoping to get the opportunity to carry out writing workshops in Calderdale schools and libraries.

Her first play, ‘Ask the Oracle’, was presented at Clifton Methodist Church in 2010 and she is hoping that her new play, an update of the 1952 film ‘Holly and Ivy’, will be staged in December.