What was the inspiration behind your Knitbone Pepper books?
When my daughter was little, she told me that she loved our old dog Finn because he was ‘the person’ who really understood her feelings. A true animal friend is a very special thing.
What sort of witch is Picklewitch?
She is a Nature witch, a caretaker of the birds and the trees. She is a free-thinker and not afraid of anyone. She’s also unreasonable and has quite a temper, but her heart is good. She’s not the friend that sensible Jack wants, but she is the friend he needs.
Are any of the characters in your books like you?
Hmm. I think my children would tell you I’m quite like Lady Pepper, because I’m fond of gardening, but they weren’t very keen when I made a beetroot cake. Or the time I presented them with sugared primrose petals. I’m probably more like Picklewitch in that I am quite stubborn and don’t like being told what to do. I often have nuts and twigs in my pockets too. AND I talk to the birds.
Do you have any hobbies like the ghosts in Knitbone Pepper?
Definitely not ironing or sock-sorting but I have always painted pictures. I often paint portraits of characters before I write about them, so I can get to know them better. Here for example, are the earliest versions of Gabriel and Valentine:
I like the natural world very much, which is why Picklewitch lives in a tree and thinks it’s the best of places. I can wander for hours looking at trees and listening to the birds.
I also love reading Nature non-fiction books before I go to sleep, so I can learn things in my dreams.
Do you have any pets?
Over the years I’ve had many – sheep, chickens, cows, pigs, ducks, a pony and a goose (I hatched her out of an egg and she thought she was a chicken. It’s complicated.) We have a Border Terrier called Sam who is quite naughty, but sweet. He likes sitting in the bicycle basket and being cycled around. Click here to see Sam drying himself off after a bath. We also have a rescue French Bulldog called Luna who’s as mad as a sock full of bees. We love her enormously.
At one point we had over forty free range chickens wandering about the farmyard laying eggs everywhere. That was a bit wild, but apparently my great grandma used to let cows into her kitchen so maybe it’s genetic. Living in deepest, darkest Devon, on the edge of a wood, we have lots of bats and owls, hares, badgers, foxes and deer. I really, really like animals and just being around them makes me feel happy.
What do you find funny?
A chicken running sideways in the wind is ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS.
Do you do school visits?
Yes, loads, and libraries and festivals and bookshops too. You can get in touch with me on my Contact page here.