Guest author blog: A Whole Heap of Fun – creating Electrigirl, by Jo Cotterill

ELECTRIGIRL-COVER-front.jpgWriting books is often fun for me. I like being able to make up stuff. (The editing part is the not-fun part. Though I know authors who will swear the opposite!) Usually a book starts with a single idea. It might be inspired by an overheard conversation, or a newspaper article, or an online comment.

Electrigirl came from two places: my frustration with the lack of female superheroes (and when they do exist, they are often sidelined – hello, Hasbro and your lack of Rey figures in your latest Star Wars merchandise! Shame on you!) and my growing fascination with comics. Well, I say ‘growing’ but really I mean ‘returning’, because when I was a child there were LOADS of comics for kids. I grew up on Twinkle, Judy and Jackie, which all had comic strip stories. Ballet, the supernatural, boarding schools – even a fairground story with a creepy clown that freaked me out BIG TIME – all topics were covered in pictures.

I liked the idea of doing a superhero story in comic strip form. But it scared me a bit too because I haven’t done it before. And that led me to come up with an idea that, once I had it, seemed totally obvious and I wondered why on earth no one had done it before!

Electrigirl is the story of Holly Sparkes, who’s struck by weird lightning and gains electrical powers. She accidentally blows up her classroom, her brother volunteers to be her mentor, and she has an evil technological genius to defeat too – so all perfectly normal for a superhero!

When Holly’s being an ordinary girl, the story is told through prose. When she’s using her powers, the story shifts into comic strip – and so the reader flips between the two styles of storytelling all the way through. Which is DEAD cool, and so obvious and I was desperate to do it first before anyone else had the idea!


I asked Cathy Brett to come on board very early on. We’d met through the multi-author blog Girls Heart Books (which I run) and I adored her style. Luckily she TOTALLY ‘got’ the Electrigirl idea, and so we started work. I have to confess that it took a LONG time to get something that properly hung together – you don’t want to know how many drafts are in my computer! – but it was a really exciting process, and the pain of the struggle was made much easier by having a partner to moan to!

We were so thrilled when OUP said they’d take the book (and later commissioned a second, Electrigirl and the Deadly Swarm, out in August. By the way, you have to say the title in a deep voice, for effect) and they have been an absolute joy to work with.

Cathy and I are involved in every decision, from layout to front cover to ‘extras’, and we are almost wetting ourselves with excitement at the prospect of doing Electrigirl events to kids up and down the country. I have bought myself a plasma ball because I always wanted one and now I have an excuse! We even have COSTUMES!

We’ll be at festivals and schools, sometimes together, sometimes apart. Superheroes are cool, girls are cool, and books are the coolest of all. Huzzah!

©Jo Cotterill

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One thought on “Guest author blog: A Whole Heap of Fun – creating Electrigirl, by Jo Cotterill

  1. Pingback: ELECTRIGIRL is here!! | Jo Cotterill

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