I am often asked when I started writing or why and how.
If you’re interested in finding out, read on!
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU STARTED WRITING?
I remember at the age of fourteen sitting in my bedroom listening to music, as most teenagers did and do now, and writing poems and then trying to put music to them. Never showed anyone and just kept bits of paper everywhere. I couldn’t have been too bad as I gained an O-Level English exam pass! As an average student I was very pleased with myself.
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS?
Oooh, the list is endless! I always had my nose in a book, but favourite childhood authors were Enid Blyton and E. Nesbit. I even read some twice if they were really good. These are just two authors, there were so many more, too many to remember. I loved reading. As an adult the list is equally as long: Susan Hill, Dinah Jeffries, Karen Maitland, Patricia Cornwell… quite an eclectic mix!
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE SUBJECTS AT SCHOOL?
I loved English, there’s a surprise, French and Biology. English mainly because I loved to read and write stories. Biology because it included animals, and French because my first teacher, Mrs Zimmacki, was so inspiring – she made it fun! It also helped that my mum and dad had a good grasp of the language so I could do my homework and practise with them. I remember once we were headed to the Isle of Wight for Christmas and there were cardboard boxes sealed by the front door with the word ‘cadeaux’ written on them. I squealed and said ‘presents’, quickly to be told ‘shush… don’t tell your sister and brother’. They smiled and said they’d have to find another way of disguising presents from then on!
WHO INSPIRED YOU AS A CHILD?
I had a lovely English teacher from a young age, Mrs Gent, who helped to nurture my love of books, as did my father, himself an avid reader and collector of books, and my mother. My mother is also very creative in other ways; to date she must have written a few hundred poems all prompted by observation. They would make us laugh and cry, sometimes both.
And at school I used to look forward to English. Once a week we would choose a book and the following week, before changing that book, we had to write a type of review and then a synopsis to make someone else want to read that book. Each week I couldn’t wait to choose a book. Do they still do that in schools now? If not, I think they should!
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU NOW?
Anything and everything around me; I can sit in a café and people watch for hours, writing down what they look like, how they walk, how they interact with their friends or family. Anything descriptive. Life experiences too, of people I’ve met or worked for, I’ve got so much material stored in my head, as well as a good imagination!
But of course my children and grandchildren are my main inspiration. They were certainly the spark for the ‘Bella and Bentley’ series!
DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR ILLUSTRATOR?
Yes I did, it took me a year of research and a year to get an appointment with Sarah. I think we’ve a good few years of work together, well at least I hope! I’m so pleased with my ‘Bella and Bentley’ illustrations, she’s captured them both perfectly.
SO, WHAT NEXT?
I’ve started another book called ‘Stay with Hannah’ which is completely different but all my books now and in the future will always having children and dogs in them, so if you’re a dog lover you’ll like this one!