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Learn TEN facts about Lisa Williamson! New series Bigg School is published this Thursday…

1 Lisa Williamson is a British children’s author. She has written four fiction titles for young adults and three non-fiction titles for younger children, including a biography of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Her latest book, Best Friends Forever is for children ages 8+ and is the first title in a brand-new series called Bigg School. Set at Henry Bigg Academy, every title in the series will explore the life of a different child in year 7.

2 Lisa grew up in Arnold, Nottinghamshire with her mum, dad and big sister Helen. Arnold is not very exciting (sorry, Arnold) so as a child Lisa spent a lot of time making up stories in her head to stop herself from getting bored. She also loved to draw, dance and trying to train (not very successfully) her rabbit Juniper to do tricks.  

3 Lisa is also an actor and has starred in many musicals and pantomimes over the years, including Aladdin (three Christmases in a row!) and Peter Pan where she was flown across the stage on wires. She has also appeared in lots of TV commercials including the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert (the one with the penguins!).

4 Lisa wrote her first novel for young adults, The Art of Being Normal after working at a clinic for children wishing to explore their gender identity. Hearing their stories inspired her to write a book from the point of view of a transgender teenager. She still gets letters and emails from young people discovering the book for the very first time.

5 As a child Lisa loved to read. Some of her favourite books growing up included The Magic Faraway Tree seriesby Enid Blyton,George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl, Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg, and Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume. She also really enjoyed reading comics like Twinkle, Bunty and Mandy.

6 Lisa likes to write the sorts of books she thinks her younger self would have enjoyed – stories about ordinary children navigating everyday life. She believes that every child has a story worth sharing and loves getting under the skin of her characters and finding out what makes them special and unique.

7 The first book in the Bigg School series is about Lola, whose friendship with BFF Evie looks set to change when they find out they’re going to be in different classes when they move up to secondary school. The next book is called Double Drama (out in April 2024) and is all about Daniel, a young carer and inspiring actor. When Daniel gets the lead role in the school play he struggles to juggle rehearsals with his complicated home life, all the while hiding both from his gang of mates.

8 Lisa works on the Bigg School series alongside illustrator Jess Bradley. Jess also illustrates the well-loved Squid Bits for The Phoenix magazine. In Best Friends Forever Jess’s illustrations bring Lola’s story to life and really capture the characters. Lisa’s favourite illustration in the book is the one of Lola and Evie on the very last page because it makes her feel happy and sad at the same time. When she first saw it she got a massive lump in her throat!

9 When she was nine, Lisa won a McDonalds drawing competition. The prize was a party at McDonalds and a tour around the kitchens. It was one of the best days of her life.

10 Lisa’s favourite things are (in no particular order) chocolate ice cream, bookshops, board games, Christmas, the seaside, theme parks, baking, long walks in the woods, reading on trains and her whippet Nelson.  

You can watch Lisa read an extract from Best Friends Forever here on the Guppy website and we have some fantastic Teacher resources too to accompany the series, take a look here.