Soil Scientist launches new career writing children’s books

12th July 2018

Former Liverpool-based university lecturer and BSSS Council Member Jennifer Jones knew she wouldn’t take to retirement easily.

As a self-confessed ‘do-er’ sitting back and relaxing just isn’t in her nature. However, the 69-year-old soil scientist has surprised even herself after a new interest in bird watching has led her to launch an entirely new career as an author of children’s literature.

The former principal lecturer at Liverpool John Moore University published her first picture book ‘Rock on Barney’ in November and she is now busy penning her second book ‘The Adventures of Markus Moldewarp’, which is due out later this year. Inspired by the natural world and her new found love of birds, Jennifer, from Hunts Cross, chair of the Northern Soils Network of the British Society of Soil Science, hopes her books will inspire young children to think more about their environment.

“I’ve always written and had a passion for reading and writing," explained Jennifer. “My mother was a primary school teacher and wrote books for children so I guess I’m somewhat following in her footsteps. My first career was nursing and I had intended on becoming a paediatric nurse but I suffered a back injury quite young which meant I struggled to work for many years. I wrote a lot during that time and eventually when I was well enough I went back to university to study for a degree in Geography and Botany. It was during these years I really developed a passion for writing albeit in a more academic way. I went on to do a PhD which involved lots more writing and I’ve had many articles published in professional magazines and journals. I knew one day I would write a fictional book and I got the idea for ‘Rock on Barney’ when I was on my way back from a writing group in Wrexham. I saw a buzzard sitting on a lamppost. A part of me was thrilled I even recognised what the bird was but I just remember thinking how lonely he looked. I knew from that moment he would feature as the main character in the book and the rest of the story followed from there.”

Released on Amazon in November and illustrated by artist Alan Jones, ‘Rock on Barney’ tells the story of a not-so fierce buzzard and his journey to find new friends when he becomes an all singing, all-rocking star at the ‘Have-a-Go’ disco night.

The follow-up book ‘The Adventures of Markus Moldewarp’ is about a mole with attitude. Unlike other moles Markus doesn’t like being underground and so finds himself caught up in a series of adventures above the soil.

Jennifer, who has been visiting primary schools across Liverpool to share her love for writing and the environment with pupils, said: “I’m really excited about Markus. It’s been such a lovely book to work on and of course brings in elements of my profession as a soil scientist. “I really hope children are going to like it and I can’t wait to share it with them. “It feels rather strange at nearly 70 to be starting a new career as an author of children’s books but I’m having so much fun.

“It’s a real pleasure to be able to combine all my interests - writing, birds, soil and much more into one job.”

Jennifer, who continues to lecture at Chester University one day a week, is available for author visits in schools and other community groups. For more information about her latest books and projects visit her website