Ever since I can remember, stories have been my world.
When I was little, books and comics covered the end of my bed like a wordy patchwork quilt. Some of my regular favourites were Danny Champion of The World, Tales from Shakespeare, Mary Poppins and The Beano but I’d read pretty much everything, from cereal packets to instruction leaflets. I was so devoted to our television set that my bottom made a worn patch in the lounge carpet, right in front of it.
These stories all did the same thing: they let me know that excitement and adventure lay just around the corner. I spent a lot of time searching for pirates and dragons in the brambles behind my grandma’s house, just in case.
Then, when I was a teenager, I went on to study English Literature and History at university. This was a brilliant excuse to read yet more stories and I got to study some of the best ever created.
I have been lucky to live in interesting places too, such as the seaside, busy cities and even on narrowboats. All the while I was painting pictures, as well as being a mother to two remarkable small humans. I was very happy.
But for a long time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a job. I tried lots of things; a secretary, a poodle groomer, a shop assistant, a puppeteer, an English tutor, a waitress, an illustrator and a primary school teaching assistant, but none of them felt quite right.
Then one day I remembered my first love.
I suddenly knew I should write stories with interesting beginnings, middles and ends. I wanted them to sit at the bottom of children’s beds to make them certain that something exciting was just around the corner. By then my imagination was full of seeds and, before you could say ‘dandelion and daisies’, my own stories began to bloom.
These days I live in Devon on a little farm on the edge of a wood. It is the perfect place for a writer to live, buzzing with life and stories. Every morning I get followed around by an assortment of wonky animals; honking, clucking, barking and bleating for their breakfast. Then, once this is done and finally all is calm, I sit down – steaming cup of coffee on one side, snoozing dog on the other – and get down to the seriously fun business of wrangling words into the right order.
If you’d like to see where I work, here is a little film