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Chrissie Sains

Jam Factory Inspiration


Author of the hilariously fun 'An Alien in the Jam Factory' discusses the inspiration behind her writing.


My review of 'An Alien in the Jam Factory' is here.

‘An Alien in the Jam Factory’ started with a jam tart. My children and I thought it looked like a little flying saucer and together we imagined an alien crash landing on earth and flying around in it.



But where would the alien crash in order to find a jam tart to fly around in? After a little brainstorming, the answer came to us. The most inventive jam factory in the world!



I grew up a short drive away from Tiptree Jam Factory and have really fond childhood memories of driving past with the windows down so that I could breathe in the delicious smells of jam that surround the town. It always seemed like a completely magical place to me and I think that must have stuck.



My daughters and I spent weeks chatting about jam inventions. Throwing random ideas out and jotting them down in a notepad. We started by thinking about exciting flavours of jam; flavours that would appeal even to people who didn’t like it. We soon moved onto thinking about what else jam could be used to make and before we knew it, we had an invention ideas book, much like Scooters.



Only problem: I didn’t actually know all that much about making jam.



The research began. I made jam and I spent a lot of time watching videos of jam being made in factories. To create a factory that would make the incredible inventions that my family and I had come up with, I wanted to give it a personality of its own. I also wanted to adapt it to suit the needs of my main character, Scooter, who has Cerebral Palsy. I needed a factory that was inventive, fun and sensitive to his needs. I turned to Wallace and Gromit.



I’ve always marvelled over the inventions that Aardman create and I wanted to have a similar sense of personality and fun to McLay’s Jam factory.



The house soon became littered with sketches of maps, inventions and ideas. A roller coaster, a pair of giant friendly robotic hands, a huge hairdryer, even a pull chain flusher to deep clean the factory!



I certainly had a lot of fun creating McLay’s Jam Factory and I still have so many ideas left to use for the next book. I hope children will enjoy reading it as much as my family and I enjoyed creating it.

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