I love animals; they’ve always been a part of my life and many of the animals I’ve known have sneaked into my books.
I often made up stories when I was a child and sometimes even scribbled them down on scruffy bits of paper. When I was ten I thought I had a winner and I sent it off to a publisher, certain that I was about to become a famous author!
Months later, the publisher wrote me a really nice letter saying ‘no thank you’ and I was so cross that I tore up my story (didn’t keep a copy or anything) and threw it away. I wish now that I still had it; I’m sure it was terrible!
After that early setback I didn’t try and get any stories published for a long time! However, I did do a lot of writing in my jobs. I wrote advertisements and lots of publicity material and I even edited a little magazine. It was only when I had my first child – when I was living in Australia - that I started writing stories again. That was a long time ago; all my children are grown up now.
My first novel, Race Against Time was set in Australia and was a scary time-slip ‘quest’ about a group of modern children who were fighting an evil force from the past. Race Against Time was runner-up for a major award and that gave me the confidence to keep going.
Since then, I have written over forty books for children of all ages, from 5-yr-olds to teenagers. For younger children I wrote nine fantasy stories for Cambridge University Press featuring, among other characters, The Amazing Mr Mulch, and I also wrote stories for Penguin – The Gremlin Buster, The Smell that Got Away, Holly and the Dream Fixer and Follow that Lion. For older children I’ve written Dreamchild, Scent of Danger, Seal Cry, Herbie’s Place, The Silver Fox and Blood Ties (all Penguin) and, more recently The Troubled Waters trilogy (Hodder) Mixing It and Payback (Frances Lincoln). I’ve also written several historical stories for schools – The Gangbusters, The Fox in the Wood, Secrets and Spies, Mission from the Marsh and The Flight of the Mallard (Mill Publishing).
Two of my recent books The Blue Eyed Aborigine (Frances Lincoln) and Ghost Ride are also set in Australia.
So Australia still features strongly in my life and I often go back. I’ve also lived and worked in other countries and visited a lot more but I always love coming home to my farmhouse in rural Cambridgeshire.
As well as writing stories, I ‘m a reader for an authors’ advisory service and I run creative writing workshops for both children and adults.