Jordan, Sherryl

Jordan, Sherryl


Bay of Plenty
Primary publisher
Harper Collins USA, Scholastic NZ
Rights enquiries
Agent, Tracey Adams,
Publicity enquiries
C/- Scholastic NZ Ltd, Private Bag 94407, Greenmount, Auckland 1730, New Zealand, or email Jordan's editor, Penny Scown:

In Brief

Sherryl Jordan is a children’s fantasy writer. Her books are widely published overseas and have won and been shortlisted for awards in New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Belgium and Germany. Her awards include the USA School Library Journal Best of 1999, the 2001 Wirral Paperback of the Year for The Raging Quiet, and the 2001 Buxtehuder Bulle Prize for Best Young Person's Book of the Year for The Juniper Game. In 2001 Jordan was awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal for her contribution to children's literature, publishing and literacy.


JORDAN, Sherryl (1949 – ), children’s fantasy writer, won the national competition in 1980 for illustrations to Joy Cowley’s The Silent One, but soon abandoned illustrating for writing. In five years, she produced twenty-seven picture books (three published) and four novels (none published). Finally, with her fifth novel, she gained the 1988 Choysa Bursary Award, and the futuristic Rocco (1990) won the 1991 AIM Book of the Year. Through time-slips to the future, Rocco learns basic survival skills in a mountain environment, reverence for non-violent, spiritual living, and the urgency of anti-nuclear strivings.

Afflicted with Occupational Overuse Syndrome in 1989, Jordan recovered enough to continue writing novels for teenagers and junior readers. All up to 1995 have been shortlisted for awards. The Juniper Game (1991) provides her only hint at Southern Hemisphere origins, but like The Wednesday Wizard (1991) and Denzil’s Dilemma (1992) features time-slips to medieval England, where her picture book, The Other Side of Midnight (1994), is also set. Winter of Fire (1993) and Tanith (1994) feature teenage girl protagonists in love and seeking power against oppression in exotic worlds of the distant future or past. Jordan’s 1995 novel, Sign of the Lion, again features a girl’s struggle for power. Though at times she stretches credibility, Jordan writes with passion and dramatic imagery. She was born in Hawera. In 1993 she was granted a Fellowship to the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Correction: ROCCO was Jordan's thirteenth novel, and the first to be published.


Sherryl Jordan is not available at present for writer visits as part of the Book Council's Writers In Schools programme.

KAPAI: Kids' Authors Pictures and Information

Where do you live?
In Tauranga, in a beautiful silver-timbered cottage with medieval front doors.

What sorts of book do you like to read?

Mainly books written for young adults – or books set in Medieval times.

Do you have a favourite author?
I have several - C.S. Lewis, Mary Stewart, Jane Yolen, St. Julian of Norwich.

How do you think up your ideas?
I don’t. Books ‘appear’ to me like movies in my head, all in the space of a few seconds. However, I may think about the book, and do research for many months before I begin writing.

What is the best thing about being an author?
Being paid for dreaming.

Some questions from Primary School students

Do you have any pets?
A silver tabby cat and two goldfish. I used to have pet mice, and would love to have mice again, but I think they would tempt my cat to do terrible things.

Do you have a favourite colour?

Do you have a favourite food?
Stir-fried vegetables.

How about a favourite movie?
Dances with Wolves

What is the most fun thing about being a writer?
Living in the world of the story. While I’m writing, the world in my story is more real than this one.

How do you make a book?
A very involved question. First the idea, then the writing and re-writing (very important!) then illustrations if you can find a publisher. And there isn’t any room here to talk about publishing.

Where do you like to go for your holidays?
My last holiday was in New York – though there was a lot of business to do, seeing publishers, etc.

What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
Getting sick all over my teacher. She was making me drink sour milk. This was back in the days when all primary school children were given free milk to drink – usually after it had been sitting out in the sun all morning. I hated that milk!

Some questions from Secondary School students

How did you get started as a writer?
When I was four I was given a notebook of blue paper; I made a story of pictures about a mermaid.

Who inspired you when you were getting started?
About 30 years later, when I was working hard to write something publishable, Joy Cowley was a huge encouragement.

What advice would you give an aspiring young writer?
Write, write, write. And then revise, revise, revise. Never give up.

Is it difficult to make a living as a writer in New Zealand?
From a book published in New Zealand, you might make only $2,000 or $3,000 altogether, over several years. The only way to make money is to be published overseas, especially in the United States.

What were you like as teenager?
Quiet. Boring. Studious. Dull! But I could paint – and write.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I wrote 12 novels which were never published, before I wrote Rocco, my 13th novel – the first to be published. All the previous novels have been destroyed.
I love this quote by Richard Bach – ‘You are never given a dream without also being given the means to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.’ So I work. Hard. I used to be an illustrator, though I never loved it as much as I love writing. I live what I write. If a main character in my story has a headache, I have a headache. Once when I was writing about people who had the plague (in Medieval England) I got meningitis! I got scared and never finished the book.


Other titles for young adults include Secret Sacrament (1996) and The Hunting of the Last Dragon (2002).

Jordan continued her series, 'The Adventures of Denzil - Apprentice Wizard' with The Great Bear Burglary (Scholastic, 1997).

Sherryl Jordan's books are widely published overseas and have won and been shortlisted for awards in New Zealand, UK, USA, Belgium and Germany. Her awards include the USA School Library Journal Best of 1999 and the 2001 Wirral Paperback of the Year for The Raging Quiet, and the 2001 Buxtehuder Bulle Prize for Best Young Person's Book of the Year for The Juniper Game.

In 2001 Jordan was awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for her contribution to childrens literature, publishing and literacy.

Rocco was re-released in 2003. Rocco Makepeace is about to make a very unexpected trip, which will enable him to meet people who live in caves, hunt with bows and arrows, and believe in magic and superstition. In such an extraordinary world, Rocco becomes resistant to the idea of returning home - but he soon realizes that this otherworldly place is anything but paradise.

The Juniper Game was also re-released in 2003. Juniper persuades Dylan, the class non-entity, to help her with a telepathy experiment. Dylan proves an excellent median, but one day Juniper finds herself in what appears to be the past, and soon they are both drawn into the world of a young woman accused of witchcraft.

The Hunting of the Last Dragon was released by Simon & Schuster in 2004. High overhead, a dragon flies on coppery wings, raining down fire and destruction on all that lies below. Jude is no hero. Deeply traumatised after returning to find his village a charcoaled ruin and his family dead, he is picked up by a travelling fair, where he rescues the strange yet beautiful Jing-wei from life as a circus freak. He alone must kill the last dragon. The work was listed as a 2005
Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.

The Silver Dragon (Scholastic, 2007) completes Jordan’s series about Denzil the Apprentice Wizard. Denzil is drafted in by Friar Gregory to create the first printing press, using his knowledge from the future. Classical mishaps ensue – The Silver Dragon is like Lemony Snicket with time travel!

The previous three books in the 'Denzil' series, The Wednesday Wizard, Denzil's Dilemma, and The Great Bear Burglary have been re-jacketed by Scholastic to coincide with the publication of the final book in the series.

Jordan's young adult novel, Time of the Eagle (HarperCollins imprint Eos), was released in 2007, and it is the sequel to Secret Sacrament (1996). The work was listed as a 2008 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.

Sherryl Jordan has just recently been announced as the recipient of the 2010 Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book, for her work The Wednesday Wizard. The Gaelyn Gordon Award is given by Storylines to honour a work of fiction that did not win an award at the time of publication, but by remaining in print for more than five years, has won acceptance by young readers as a successful book of enduring appeal. “While Sherryl Jordan has gone on since 1991 to win praise as an author of young adult novels, particularly in America, this early book for younger readers, a time-slip story set in medieval England, has proved itself a true classic,” says Trust chair Dr Libby Limbrick. “It also led to three sequels, also admired.”

Jordan's humorous children's novella Finnegan and the Pirates was released by Scholastic NZ in 2010 and shortlisted for the Storylines Notable New Zealand Books: Junior Fiction category in 2011.

The Last Summoner was released by Scholastic NZ in 2011. This fantasy book for children tells the story of Ari, who longs to be a dragon summoner in a world where girls are forbidden from becoming summoners.

Ransomwood (Scholastic NZ, 2012) is an adventurous love story set in the Middle Ages.

Jordan's latest book is The Freedom Merchants, published by Scholastic NZ in 2013. Set in Ireland in the 1600s, this book centres around the Barbary Coast white slave trade that operated at the same time as the transatlantic slave trade. For readers 13-19 years.

Wynter's Thief (OneTree House) was published in August 2019 and was named a 2020 Storylines Notable Book.


Updated January 2017.