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Recently I was asked this question; “What makes you tick?”

It wasn’t a question I was expecting to be asked, but I found I knew the answer without hesitation, and since then I’ve been thinking about it, and what it means for me, my children, and life in general.

The answer that came to me immediately is stories, and women and girls.


My passion for stories has been with me since childhood. Before I could write stories I drew comic books. Before I could read, I’d fall asleep surrounded by picture books.

I started trying to write books as soon as I could. I would watch and obsess over films and TV shows. I hoarded books on writing and filmmaking, behind the scenes fact files, and additional books to go with popular series. Stories.

I started writing what turned into my first book when I was 21. I’d started writing books many times in my life, managed two, five, ten chapters before giving up. But this one was different. Lilly Prospero was a character I felt emotionally connected to. It was her story I wanted to tell.

It took nearly 10 years of writing, rewriting and editing before Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit was complete. And since then, I have been incredibly fortunate to pursue what makes me tick with most of my professional energy. My writing has improved, my story style and understanding has improved, but it’s still as story I love desperately and I am incredibly proud of. It’s the book that started me feeling I’m I’m truly me.

In 2021 the release of our first feature film, Hollowhood, felt like the most incredible culmination of everything I have worked for. But the work isn’t done. There are still more stories to be told.

Women And Girls

Women and girls was a passion that was initially fed to me by my mother. My mother who fiercely taught me that women can be doctors, scientists, teachers, engineers. Who called me into her bedroom to play I Am Woman by Helen Reddy to me on her original vinyl, whilst telling me the women who came before me fought for my rights, and now it’s my turn to take over. Who funneled books like The Handmaid’s Tale and Wild Swans into my hands.

I was a little girl, then a teenager, and then a young woman. My mother made sure my passion for defending, representing, and celebrating women and girls was at the forefront of my mind. I wrote passionate blogs about women’s rights, I read literature by famous feminists and followed them on social media in quiet awe. I put women and girls at the forefront of every story I ever wrote.

But I also failed them. I look back on my life and know that, at times, I was not a good sister to my fellow women. I never wanted to be a bad friend, a bad daughter, a bad sister. But I was. I wasn’t as loyal as I should have been. I wasn’t as compassionate as I could have been. I let my own internal drama spill out and make me behave in ways that I wish I could take back.

But I was also forgiven. The women in my life who I love so dearly have embraced me, despite my flaws. And this fact takes me back to my love of stories.

Women And Girls In Stories

I want to write women and girls in stories who are real. Who are smart, and strong, and capable, and flawed. Women and girls who have adventures, make mistakes, take risks, achieve things, and do things wrong.

Women and girls who love and forgive when deserved, but stay steadfast in their own rights to reject abusers when needed. Women and girls who, as a sex class, have as many similarities as they do differences across the scope of our world.

What Makes My Children Tick?

I find apathy one of the most frustrating traits in any human being. For all the things I am (both good and bad), passionate is definitely one of the things at the top. I am passionate about what I do, passionate about what I love, and driven in a really guttural way to achieve and work for the things I am passionate about. And when people are “Meh” about anything I feel a deep sense of rage. Life is short. It’s too short to be “Meh” about anything.

For this reason, I desperately hope my children are driven. But what makes them tick? What is their passion?

I have to try and balance myself. I don’t want to be pushy. But I can’t be apathetic. I refuse to be a helicopter parent who is constantly forcing them to be under my wing and observed at every second. But I cannot cope with them not bothering to do anything with their lives unless they’re forced to.

What I want is for them to feel something that makes them tick, and to go for it. I don’t mind what. The 5 year old loves to tell stories with her dolls. They’re dramatic and theatrical and filled with conflict. So I celebrate them. The 9 year old loves dinosaurs and monsters and mystery, so she has dino toys and we watched Lost and Jurassic Park.

As long as they are not “Meh” about life, I’m happy. But sometimes they’re kinda “Meh.” They want to sit and stare at YouTube gamers playing Minecraft and talking in excitable voices about it. I’m constantly torn between “Let them rest, they’re kids, they need down time” and “If you care about the game they’re playing then go and get good at it yourself instead of sitting there doing nothing!”

Motherhood is filled with endless reasons to feel like you’re doing things wrong. This is just one of my very long list.

What Makes You Tick?

Life is short. It’s too short to not find something that makes you tick and allow yourself to love it passionately.

It might not be something that becomes a career, it might not be something that everybody understands, but it’s something that makes you tick so it’s something about you. And you matter. You’re important. Let yourself tick. Let yourself have passion.

Whether it’s playing with dolls, watching monster movies, or writing fantasy feminist fiction, love it. Do it. Let yourself be passionate about it.

Don’t be “Meh.” Life isn’t “Meh.” Life is short. Life is precious. Life can be so much more than “Meh” if you just let yourself tick.

JJ x


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