Flirty Dancing Secrets

Jive

When I lived in Brighton, my flat mate and I decided to learn to jive. I can vividly remember walking into the church hall in Hanover and seeing our teachers, Janeka and Colin, dancing around the room. They were simply amazing and, like Bea, I instantly fell in love with jive. It’s basically the most fun exercise you can do and when I jive, I grin. It’s the best. Jive also involves lots of cool vintage clothes, making it the hobby that has everything. Lindy Hop is a member of the swing dance family and I wish I could do it. By making Bea and Ollie Lindy Hop, I was able to fulfil a little fantasy of mine. If you want to see what jive / swing / Lindy Hop looks like, check out this film (and keep watching until the end when the ‘maid’ kicks her partner on the bum; Bea would definitely do this to Ollie):

Nan

NanMy own nan was the inspiration for Bea’s nan. She gave the best cuddles, threw legendary parties, taught me to play cards (for money) and believed all her grandchildren were beautiful geniuses. My nan never wore Top Shop clothes, but her nails were always perfectly manicured and her hands glittered with her colossal diamond rings. If anything, I had to tone down the fictitious Nan; the story of my nan’s hen night is hilarious, but I’m not sure my publishers would allow it in a book for teens!

Emma

Julia and tummy buttonMy little sister, Julia, did some crazy stuff when we were growing up. Like Emma, she put a naked Barbie in my brother’s school bag which he then pulled out at school. Julia enjoyed colouring herself in with felt-tip pen and was pretty keen on being naked. Mum once brought her to watch my sports day; it was only when Jules started ‘fiddling with her tummy button’ (she liked doing this) that Mum, and my entire school, discovered she wasn’t wearing knickers. Julia is now 32 and she hasn’t changed much.

My two daughters also provided a lot of Emma inspiration. I keep a book where I write down all the funny things they say. Here are some of my favourites:

“What’s that smell? I can smell you.”

“I’m a naked shop keeper, but first I’m going for a wee.”

“Can I have some more allotment?” (omelette).

Bea

Like Bea, I suffered from the shyness. I have a spookily good memory so I can easily remember what it felt like to leave my real personality at home, and go to school as ‘quiet’ Jen. As a grown up, I seem to have swung alarmingly in the opposite direction and I now inhabit Betty territory. Once in year nine, I asked two girls in my class what book they were talking about (it was half-hidden in their bag like it was illegal). ‘It’s Forever by Judy Blume,’ said one of the girls, ‘but it’s too grown up for you.’ What?! We were the same age and I’d been reading my nan’s ‘romance’ books for years (and they were definitely too grown up for me). I didn’t say anything, but I wish I had. Memories like that inspired me to tell Bea’s story.

‘Though she be but little, she is fierce’

This is a simply superb quotation from William Shakespeare.  The line comes from Act 3, Scene 2 of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.  It’s a little complicated to explain the whole situation here, but basically, two human couples, who have been manipulated by fairy magic, are arguing in the woods at night.  This line is delivered by one of the women, Hermia, as an insult against the other, Helena.

It’s a great scene, but a little sexist.  I really wanted to use it in an alternative context, because, with a slightly different spin, it’s a really empowering sentiment!

How to Speak Arse

I first created the Romance language of Arse when on holiday in Paris. My mum and sister had been winding me up by speaking in Pig Latin. If you are unfamiliar with Pig Latin, it is an infuriating pretend language which is difficult to understand if you don’t know the rules. I didn’t know the rules and for some reason, my brain is not capable of learning them.

‘Shut uparse!’ I said to Mum and Jules. ‘I canarse speakarse a stupidarse pretendarse langaugearse.’

‘Your facearse is veryarse uglyarse,’ said my sister, quickly picking up the basics of Arse.

‘Yes,’ said Mum. ‘You have big chinarse.’

‘That’s very funnyarse, Mumarse,’ I said. ‘Shall we go to the Champs-Élyséesarse?’

To speak Arse simple add the word ‘arse’ to the end of words. It’s up to you how many words end in ‘arse’. It’s very open-endedarse.

19 comments

  1. Hello Jenny, I have just finished reading Flirty Dancing and it was amazing! I felt as if I WAS Bea or I was living with Bea. I found Emma hilarious and I completely sympathise with Bea’s ‘stuck in the middle feeling’ between Kat and Betty. Please hurry up with writing Bea’s next adventure.
    I CAN’T WAIT!

    1. Hello, Anna – I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, but it’s taking me some time to work out how to use my messages! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed my book and when I read that you felt you were Bea I could have cheered. When I wrote the book, this was exactly what I hoped would happen so hurrah!! You’ll be pleased to know that I finished editing book 2 a couple of hours ago and they will be making proof copies soon. I’ll get a proof copy to you when I get one so you can have a sneak preview. X Jen

      1. Hi Jen , thank you for writing that book because it really helped my friend. When I was reading the book everything Bea done reminded me of my friend , so I recommended the book to my friend and when she finished the book she wasn’t shy anymore . So thanks for helping her . Me and some friends have took up jiving , after reading your book and researching we decided to give it a go and we’ve got a show in 2weeks.
        I really want a movie about Flirty dancing . I can imagine in my brain what Bea , Ollie , pearl and her family look like . Can’t wait for the next one I’ve got counting already . Thanks xxxxxxxx

      2. Hey Penelope – so happy you and your friend enjoyed Bea’s story. Love Bomb is out in March… lots more of Bea, Betty, Kat and Pearl. I even manage to get Emma into a few scenes! x Jen

    1. i love your books jenny but i really enjoyed flirty dancing emma was hilarious and it was just amazing please write more books about bea and ollie please

      1. Hi Lola I’m so pleased that you love Flirty Dancing. Do you know, I’d quite like to write another book about Bea and Ollie because I want to know what happens next. I hope you keep reading the book if it makes you happy – that’s why I wrote it! I reread it sometimes because I still love their story – I especially like the sock scene!!! xxx Jenny

  2. Hello Jenny, I ready Flirty Dancing a couple of months back about october and i really enjoyed it when i found out the other two books you have i really want to read them, i cant wait i have asked for them for christmas, and i am going to wait for the new one you are making(coming out in march) too. x

    1. Hi Courtney I’m so pleased that you like Flirty Dancing and I really hope you get my other two for Christmas. Love Bomb has quite a Christmassy feel to it & and Sunkissed if filled with sunshine. Perfect for rainy days! xx Jenny

  3. love love love flirty dancing it is the best book i had ever read i read the book every day when i have a chance and then when im finished i read it again and i want more books of ollie and bea dont forget about hilarious emma

    1. Hi Lola I forgot to say that I’m glad you like Emma. She’s based a bit on my little sister who really did put a naked Barbie in a school bag, but luckily it was my brothers. He was in year Eleven when he discovered it during tutor time!! xx

    1. Hi Humayra
      I’m so pleased that you love Flirty Dancing. Really, it’s the best news I can get and thank you for recommending it to others. I’d also love to see a film of Flirty Dancing, probably more than any of my other books. I’d just love to see Bea transformed into an awesome dancer…Fingers crossed and thank you for getting in touch!! xx Jenny

  4. Hi Jenny,
    I have just finished reading the series and may I just say that these four amazing books are my favourite books I have ever read. I was so upset when I read star struck because I knew it was the last one. Will you be writing any more? The books are all so touching all of them made me cry, laugh and feel like I really connected with the ladybirds. From Emma

    1. Hi Emma! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the series and that they made you laugh and cry – that’s just what I hoped when I wrote them. It means a lot to me that you’ve taken the trouble to get in touch. I’ve just finished writing a new book, which is coming out at the start of next year. It’s not about the Ladybirds, but about a new group of friends. X Jenny

  5. Hi Jenny, I just finished reading Flirty Dancing in the past week (I loved it so much, I read it twice!) and it is one of my new favourite books! I’d love to see a film for it, and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Reading the previous comments, you mentioned a new book coming out next year, and I am already excited about it, and hope that it goes well for you.

    Thank you for writing Flirty Dancing, it’s one of those books that I’ll read again and again!

    1. Hi Eleanor What a lovely message and thank you so much for getting in touch. I’m chuffed to bits that you enjoyed Flirty Dancing so much and read it twice. I loved writing it and (if I’m totally honest!) I still read it sometimes, especially the sock scene!! I hope you read the rest of the series as Bea is in all of the books and you learn all about the other girls too. I have written another book – Star Gazing for Beginners – and that is out in March next year and I’ve started writing another book too, but at the moment this hasn’t got a name. Thanks again for your kind message and I hope you’re loving the sunshine! xx Jenny PS I’d like to see a film of it too!!

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