About Jeni Whittaker

Though I have been a writer for many years, The Courage Game is my first published novel, albeit a novel firmly grounded in fact. For more than twenty years I was obliged, as a single Mum, to make sure that my children and myself had a roof over our heads and a reasonably steady income. All thoughts of all that long list of novels I wanted to write disappeared into the sink-hole of necessity.

I’d been a teacher of Theatre and Drama for a number of years by this time and, since I’d also been a Chief Examiner, I knew that most teachers of drama had heard of me. It therefore made sense to re-invent myself from teacher to writer about all things pertaining to theatre, addressing the problems posed for secondary school teachers and students by the kind of exams invented by exam boards. Over the next twenty-three years I wrote more than fifty of these resources and seven plays which, coupled with travelling around the country delivering workshops to schools and inset training to teachers, did indeed keep the wolf from the door.

But now my children have left home and are married and producing children of their own. So now is my time. At last I can write what I want to write. The Courage Game is I hope the first of many, two of which have already been completed with two more in the pipeline.

Jeni Whittaker

What am I Writing Now?

I have already written two fantasy novels but am waiting until it is a quartet until I try to market it as a series.

I am about a third of the way through a further ‘novelised biography’ about another ancestress of mine: Caroline Herschel, sister of the astronomer William Herschel, who it has more lately been revealed was as much of a participant as her brother in the study of variable stars and comets – but because she was a woman she was, for many years, forgotten.

I have reached a point in the book where I need to go to Hanover, where the Herschel family lived until some of the family moved to England. Caroline lived there until she was twenty-one and moved back for the last twenty years of her life. So I need to spend some time there and make connections with the museums, since there is far more about Caroline there.

Meanwhile, I am well into a book about the Greek Gods – it is a rather raunchy tale about Hades and Persephone, who are the two central characters. [View an excerpt from my upcoming novel ‘Hades, Loneliest of the Gods’.] I was brought up on the classics and have retained a love for their myths throughout my life. [View a poem I wrote about Greek Mythology when I was 16.]

My writer brother, Robin Waterfield, has written more than fifty books about early Greek philosophers, thinkers and about the Classical period, both Greek and Roman, including many translations from the Greek. His masterly retelling of the Greek myths with his wife Kathryn, is one of my bibles, though I suspect my take on this particular famous myth may not entirely meet with his approval!

Oh, and I have had a request for a play-form of The Courage Game, so soon I will start that too. I think it would make a good play.