Meet Jenny

Posted by theministry on 20th February 2024

We’re very happy to welcome two top writers and facilitators, Jenny and Mayo, who head up our Community Writing Labs and lead our young writers on exciting new adventures.



Jenny Claessen

Hail from:


Favourite piece of writing:

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello! I’m Jenny, I’m a writer and teacher and before joining Ministry, worked in the West End taking children from all over London to see theatre on big stages! My favourite things are reading, riding my trusty rusty yellow bike around town and eating ice cream. Ooh and I love travelling and have been to over 50 countries! I write books for 8-12 year olds about magic when I’m not running our writing labs.

What are you most looking forward to with the labs?

I love being surprised by a twist in a story and the amazing young writers at Ministry of Stories definitely know how to shock and surprise us! I’m really excited to travel to different places – maybe even different worlds! – through everyone’s writing. And laugh a lot too!

What first got you interested in writing?

My mum read me a LOT of stories when I was younger and I’ve always loved hearing stories out loud – I still do and listen to a lot of audio books! I decided I wanted to be a writer and make up my own stories when I was really young but I was too embarrassed to say that out loud! So it was only when I went on a very special hike with a very special friend along the ‘Dragon’s Back’ where I used to live in Hong Kong that I decided I’d try not to be embarrassed and properly try to become an author.

Why is a space to write and being creative so important for young people?

Writing is one of the best and cheapest hobbies there is. You don’t need anything, not even a pen really. If your mind is full of stories, you never need to be bored. We can also pretend to be anything through our writing which increases our empathy and understanding – of others and of ourselves too. Expressing ourselves is really important, if you can write down what you’re thinking and feeling, it’s healthier than keeping all your thoughts and feelings squished up on the inside.

If you could be a character from a book, who would you be?

Wow that’s such a good question as I kind of want to be all of them, but just for a little bit of time! I’d love to be a super-smart detective like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple or really brave like Lucy and Lockwood from Lockwood and Co. I’d also like to have magic like Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle but he’s a bit of diva so I wouldn’t want to be Howl all the time!

If you could go on one adventure from a book, which would it be?

Stepping into Narnia would be a childhood dream come true so it would have to be that! I used to check ALL wardrobes when I was little to see if there was a lion or a witch on the other side of the hangers.

What’s one of your favourite pieces of writing you’ve come across in labs so far?

We made Letterbox Surprises last term and I loved all the imaginative work that went into the boxes. Max and Romeo made a whole playable world of stationary called Pencil Peril where you had to climb Rubber Mountain and not slip down the Scissor Slide so that was really fun.

What has been one of your best moments in labs so far?

I’m always really impressed when someone decides to share their work out loud for the first time and Meklit recently read her writing whilst accompanied by a real-life harpist, even though she was feeling a bit shy to start with. I was so proud of her, and even more importantly, she was proud of herself too.

Can you recommend a good children’s book/poetry/play/comic for us?

There’s a writer called Frances Hardinge who creates the strangest and most magical worlds I’ve ever read. I’ve been talking about her recently with some of the children in Wednesday Lab and got some of her books in for our library collection. Her book Deeplight is my favourite, all about submarines and sea monsters and I know Josiah from Wednesday lab will love it too!

NEXT PAGE: Meet Mayo