Book People: Geoffrey McSkimming

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Book People: Geoffrey McSkimming

In a previous job I worked at a boys school, and Geoffrey McSkimming’s ‘Cairo Jim’ books were never on the shelves. I now work at a girls school and whilst ‘Cairo Jim’ is popular, it is not at the fever pitched levels I had been used to! However his new series, ‘Phyllis Wong’, has a female main character and I am antipating some feverish borrowing and reserving on these awesome junior Jonathan Creek style mysteries. Phyllis Wong is an awesome character, and a magician who also solves crimes is just a bit genius…love it when I find a series with a really quirky, original and intriguing idea! You can see the book trailer for ‘Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto’ (complete with quirky music) below.

Geoffrey McSkimming will be a guest at this year’s StoryArts Festival Ipswich (SAFI). If you or your students are seeing Geoffrey at SAFI, this post is perfect for some pre reading before you attend the SAFI; knowing a little about the presenter beforehand makes the experience so much more worthwhile! You can also find out more about Geoffrey at his website here. The StoryArts Festival Ipswich offers FREE sessions for children and low cost sessions for adults and young adults with an interest in children’s literature such as teachers, librarians, and emerging writers and illustrators.  More information about the SAFI festival is at the end of this ‘Book People’ post.

McSkimming, Geoffrey

Ten Things You Need to Know About Geoffrey McSkimming

1.   Tell us about your latest book.

Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto is about a brilliant young girl magician named Phyllis Wong. She discovers that a series of strange thefts happening in her city are not what they seem, and she sets out to use her magic skills to try to solve the crimes.

Phyllis Wong

2.   How did you get started as a writer?

I got sunstroke in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and from that experience I wrote 19 books in the Cairo Jim chronicles, which have been translated and published in many languages around the world.


3.    What does a typical day look like for you?

Writing usually starts by 9 in the morning. Then I keep writing. And keep writing. Then I read or I go to the movies or for a long walk to think about what I will be writing the next day.

4.   Can you describe your workspace for us?

I work in the corner of a big, comfortable old art deco lounge which used to belong to my grandmother. It’s soft and very large and I surround myself with my laptop, my research books, notebooks, my copies of the Phyllis Wong books and the manuscript printout.

5.   Any words of advice for young readers and writers?

Read lots. A writer needs to read. And try to write a little (or a lot) every day. Shut the world off when you write, and escape into your imagination. Most importantly, enjoy your writing!

6.  Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?

I really like Phyllis Wong. She’s so clever, and she thinks in ways that are very special. And I love her magical knowledge. Her second story, Phyllis Wong and the Return of the Conjuror, is being published by Allen & Unwin in 2014, and it’s a BIG story, where the magic for Phyllis is more enormous than she could have imagined.

7.   If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?

Unhappy 🙂

8.   What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?

I don’t listen to music when I’m writing … I need quiet then. I like chocolate things mmmm.

9.   How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?

When you write a story, always a little of yourself goes into it, somewhere, somehow. And Phyllis is based quite a bit on my favourite magician, Sue-Anne Webster, who is a marvellous conjuror and who always amazes me!

10.   If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?

Peace, everywhere. That would be the best thing ever.

Read more about Geoffrey McSkimming at his website.

Read more about the Phyllis Wong series here.

Read more about Cairo Jim here.

You can purchase ‘Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto’ by clicking on the cover or titles in this blog post. Bring your books to SAFI and have them signed. You can also purchase Geoffrey McSkimming books at SAFI, where ‘The Book Garden’ is the official bookseller.






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