Fiona Lloyd chats about her book, Being Jimmy Baxter

As a child, Fiona Lloyd loved reading, sneaking a torch under the covers to ‘just finish this chapter—then the next, then the next.’ Now she has written a middle grade novel for the next generation to sneak under the covers with a torch. Being Jimmy Baxter by Fiona Lloyd is now launched and ready for readers to devour.

I met Fiona in person at the Creative Kids’Tales festival a number of years ago and was very excited to see her recent announcement that her middle grade novel was on the way!

Being Jimmy Baxter by Fiona Lloyd

Andrew: Hey, Fiona! Thanks for joining the blog. How did it feel to hold your book in your hand for the first time?

Fiona: Hi Andrew. Thanks for having me! Well – what can I say?! It’s magical, marvellous – and a little overwhelming. There it is an actual solid book full of your words. It’s pretty special.

Fiona Lloyd holding Being Jimmy Baxter

Andrew: One detail about Jimmy Baxter is that he loves Elvis. If you were to do a karaoke with an Elvis song, what would it be?

Fiona: Elvis has many famous songs, but I’d do a lesser known one from his movie – G.I Blues. It’s called Wooden Heart, and I loved it as a child. Probably because he sung it whilst doing a funny puppet show in the movie!


Andrew: Can you tell us briefly what Being Jimmy Baxter is about and who it’s for?

Fiona:  The story revolves around Jimmy, a twelve year old boy who soon discovers his holiday isn’t a holiday after all. Landing in a rural country town, Jimmy and Mum begin a new life, but as Mum becomes ill, Jimmy must do everything he can to keep the wheels turning. Thankfully he meets some special people who help him along the way, and falls in love with the music of Elvis Presley. Whilst there are heavy topics in this book, this is a humorous and uplifting read with plenty of fun moments to carry Jimmy through.

Fiona Lloyd signing Being Jimmy Baxter

Andrew: What new perspectives might readers gain from reading Being Jimmy Baxter?

Fiona: There are many insights into each character throughout the book allowing both adult and young readers to step into various experiences. I hope one of the take-aways for children is that everybody has a story to tell. There are some difficult topics in this book such as mental health, loneliness, and racism which open up conversations for young readers, and equally the humour and resilience of protagonist Jimmy may give them some perspective into coping mechanisms and positivity. One of the most beautiful insights is the relationship between old Mac and Jimmy, showing that friendship can grow across the ages.

Book shop event

Andrew: Why did you choose to set the story in the 1990s? What’s something about life back then that children may not have thought about?

Fiona: It was partly nostalgia, and partly the opportunity for world-building. Not having grown up here, I did lots of research on Australian sayings, interesting facts and timelines of food, like lollies for example. I’m sure children will pick up on the fact that there’s very little tech, and be interested in how listening to music has evolved, i.e from records to streaming services. The gentle insights into how people from other cultures were treated and perceived when Mac and his late wife Lizzy were young, may prompt them to think about the differences between now and then, and how  their own perceptions have been shaped.

Andrew: Without giving any spoilers, are there any particular moments or scenes in Being Jimmy Baxter that you think readers will really enjoy or resonate with?

Fiona: A tricky question! I’m sure there’ll be plenty of readers who will resonate with the experience of being the new kid at school. It happened to me five times! There’s a funny scene involving Jimmy on a night-time mission that I think young readers will really enjoy (Saints & Angels) but that’s too hard to say more without spoilers! Many adults have told me that one of their favourite chapters (Rain) where a very vulnerable Jimmy has sought out the comfort of his old friend Mac, has made them cry.

Andrew: Thanks Fiona for coming on the blog and thanks to everyone for reading the blog. Go ahead and find out more about Fiona on her website or follow Fiona (@fionalloydauthor) on her Instagram and Facebook.

Teachers and parents, you can find Being Jimmy Baxter teachers’ notes and colouring in resources over at Penguin.

Being Jimmy Baxter - Cover image

Buy Being Jimmy Baxter on Amazon or Booktopia

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