New for 2016 Festival: Jess the Goth Fairy

Jo and Jess with books

Jo and Jess at their book launch, November 2014 (Photo by John Anyon )

We are delighted to announce two new special guests for the 2016 Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival: Jo Allmond and Jess Hiles, the mother-and-daughter team responsible for the delightful Goth Fairy picture books, written to encourage children (and adults) to be more tolerant and understanding of those who are different.

They will be sharing their story with young audience members as part of the new Children’s Festival section.

All about Jess…

Jess Hiles is the inspiration for this book. Jess has learning and physical disabilities, yet has achieved so much. She is a National Special Olympic gold and silver medallist, has become a member of the People’s Parliament of Worcestershire for the Disabled, helps teach sign language at a day centre, and also works in a garden nursery. Jess wants nothing more than to help others, especially those less able than herself. She hopes by sharing her feelings in this book it will help everyone to know what it is like to be disabled.

…and Jo…

Her mum Jo Allmond now designs and makes crafts, but her career began as a ballet dancer having been privileged to dance with Fonteyn and Nureyev. Injury brought her dancing career to an early close, so she taught creative dance in mainstream schools and for 15 years ran a theatre company for able/disabled young people, helping Jess and others have fun and a social life in the community.

…and their First Book

Cover of Jess the Goth Fairy

The first book in the series

The first book in the series, Jess the Goth Fairy, is a simple, heartwarming tale of a fairy with disabled wings that stop her flying as high as her friends. Her best friend is a sparrow, Helen, a long-tailed tit without a tail. Together they rescue a bird that has been bullying them about their disabilities, and they become friends.  The illustrations, by Emily Daly, have been done to Jess’s specifications.

“I  learned about Jess and Jo’s project via their crowdfunding appeal that enabled them to publish this sweet book via SilverWood Books of Bristol,” says Festival Founder Debbie Young. “It’s been exciting to follow their progress, receiving a signed copy of the book as soon as it was published, and hearing about their visits to schools to share her story. I’m very excited that they’re able to join us for their first ever Festival booking. I think this book should be in every school library in the country!”

Jess the Goth Fairy is available to order from all good bookshops and online, and a sequel is due out in 2016. They will be bringing copies with them to sell at the Festival.

To find out more about this delightful project, please visit their website:


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