Written during Jan’s residency at Oxford Polytechnic, Handles was published by Kestrel Books in 1983 and in Puffin in 1985. It won Jan her second Carnegie Medal.

Jan’s words, from an interview in the Australian magazine Magpies, March 1989

There’s a friend of ours in the village in Norfolk who ran a bike shop and that was his shop, basically, although it was not him. My husband used to help him out. I was working in Oxford at the time so I’d write to my friend and say, ‘I need a good breakdown for a two-stroke plus remedy’ and he’d write back and I’d incorporate it into the story.

When the BBC filmed it last summer I was so pleased. From the book they actually found not only the industrial estate, but the house, Auntie Joan’s house. They rang me up, the location manager, and said, ‘We’ve found the house. You described where it was.’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s actually the house I was writing about.’ As it happened it belonged to a friend of ours, so they were able to use it.

This is a hugely enjoyable blog piece by writer Paul May.