Elizabeth Kesses

Elizabeth Kesses


1 . What was your school like?

Girls school in north west suburbs of London. It was a boarding and day school.

2. What was your favourite memory of school?

Actually when I was in kindergarten there were mainly positive experiences. Prob one of my first memories is a smell one - of freshly baked fairy cakes we had made. Or the cosy feeling of nap time when everything was quite. It was later in junior and the senior school that I wasn't so happy or comfortable there. 

3. How did your school experience influence/help your career?

I did very well academically and that definitely opened doors for me at uni (Oxford) and then a career in advertising. But most of all the bad moments - when I felt alone teased or insecure - led me to write a book later on in life called The Ugly Little Girl where I created the most fun school ever that accepts everybody. Every cloud has a silver lining!

4. Were you bullied at school? If so how did you overcome this?

 I was constantly bullied mainly verbally. I was called all sorts of names bugs bunny as I had buck teeth and fourteen yes because of my thick classes. The worst bit was being left out or ignored but I was a geek. I couldn't even walk into the sixth form common room as I was afraid of others' remarks. Funnily enough now that my book is becoming better known a lot of the bullies are trying to be friendly with me!

5. What was your favourite school subject?

Definitely languages. I was obsessed with doing well and also somehow studying a foreign language allowed me to escape and travel.

6. What did you look forward to when you went back to school after the holidays? What advice would you give to young people who are going back to school after the holidays?

Honestly I dreaded it and wouldn't be able to sleep the night before. I was scared nobody would want to sit next to me, that I'd have to spend lunch hour alone. It didn't get better for a long time because I didn't tell anyone how I felt. My biggest advice to anyone feeling this way would be to speak to someone - a parent, friend of the family, babysitter. Everything is so much better when's you have shared it. I also had a diary and wrote out my anger and sadness that way.

7. Was there anything you worried about when you went back to school after the holidays? How did you overcome this?

Lots. As above. I was worried about everything. I wouldn't be chosen in sport, no one would like me, people would pick on me, I wouldn't be invited to parties, that I was uglier than everyone else. 

8. What was your favourite school meal?

I hated most stuff - we had to eat liver spaghetti like worms and sloppy stew. It's why I created a magical canteen in my book where you jump on a tummyometer and it reads what you like. In primary school we sometimes had jam donuts at break I loved those. And also chocolate sponge pudding with chocolate custard

9. If you had to do school again what would you change?

It's funny as if I hadn't felt excluded and under confident at school I wouldn't be where I am today writing books for teens who are going through what I did. But If I could change one thing it would be to care less. I spent way too much time angsting about who said what, why and none of it was my problem. Bullies do what they do because they are also often insecure and hurting. So any mean word from them is often how they truly feel about themselves.  I guess later in life I have learnt that it is more important to believe in yourself rather than depend on the opinion of others.

10. What advice would you give to anyone who is worried about going back to school because of bullying issues?

If you are being bullied or worried about it I would speak to someone - and someone who you trust. It can be a parent, older brother or sister or a godparent. If you don't have that person in your life there are many places that can help you, the anti bulling ambassador scheme, the girl guides and if it is really bad, childline. Just don't suffer in silence. 

Elizabeth has also written another Back2School blog on here website, click here to read it.

To read more Back2School blogs click here.