I grew up in Bristol and learnt to say “ooo aah me luvver” because that’s what people in Bristol say (it’s not rude, it means “how are you?”). I did all the usual things – went to school, learnt to play the recorder, had many crushes on many boys and dyed my hair orange. Then I left the lovely people of Bristol behind and crossed the bridge to go to university in South Wales.
I loved university – the freedom, the learning, the lie ins. I studied English and Psychology and toyed with the idea of becoming a Child or Counselling Psychologist. In the end, the English side won out and I took a post-graduate diploma in magazine journalism. Half way through this rather expensive course I had an epiphany. I didn’t love writing just anything, I wanted to write fiction. Cue much panic and soul searching. So when I couldn’t avoid getting a job any longer (believe me, I tried) I went into publishing and have been there ever since.
Below are some of the questions I’ve been asked about myself and my writing. I didn’t make them up, honestly. Not all of them anyway.
Are there any books that inspired you to write?
All of them! I loved Enid Blyton as a child and couldn’t get enough of the Secret Seven, Famous Five, The Magic Faraway Tree and the Malory Towers series. As I got older it was Judy Blume (Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret – WOW) and the Sweet Dreams books. I can still remember the excitement of going to the local library and searching for new teen books on the fairly small teen shelf. At the time they were all American books so I think today’s YA readers are lucky that there are so many brilliant British YA writers out there.
When did you know you wanted to be writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I used to write stories all the time and I remember winning a pen (!) at school for my book of short stories. My parents bought me a typewriter (I’m not as young as I like to think I am) which I LOVED and I felt much more professional typing my stories. The first one I remember writing was about a gang of unruly girls who terrorised the local neighbourhood. I even drew pictures of them and designed their unruly outfits.
Why did you choose to write YA fiction?
Your teen years are so intense – hormones are in overdrive and you’re trying to work out who you are and where you belong in the world. I love all the angst and the endless possibilities that came with being a teenager.
What was the teenage you like?
School-wise, I was Miss Average. If there was a top, middle and bottom class for lessons I was always in the middle. Although I may have been in top for French but that’s because my mum, ahem, helped me with my homework (cheating is such a strong word. Parents like to help. It makes them feel needed). I was neither popular nor unpopular – again, somewhere in the middle.
Personally, I was a bit of a daydreamer with my head always buried in a book. In my later teen years I got into heavy metal music and life became a whole lot more interesting. But that’s another story…
Is it true you snore like a pig on a treadmill?
AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH. How did that get in there? NO! Absolutely not. Let’s never speak of this again.
Have you taken any writing classes?
Yes, I did an evening course in writing fiction and met lots of other lovely writers, including my writing buddy, and published author, Rhoda Baxter (www.rhodabaxter.com – a shameless plug, I know. Don’t judge me). I’m also a member of SCBWI.
What’s your favourite thing about writing?
When an idea jumps into your head, with no warning, and you think – yes, that’s brilliant! Sadly it doesn’t happen often enough. Also I love the plotting and planning stage because it’s basically daydreaming and that’s fun.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Titles! I hate trying to come up with titles – they’re so tricky. And editing. That’s no picnic either.
When you’re not writing, what do you do?
I read, LOTS. Especially YA fiction. I also like to re-watch my Buffy DVDs because Buffy is the best TV series of all time and full of angst, so perfect for inspiration.
I also love travelling. My favourite places in the whole world are Sydney, Australia, and South Africa. I’m addicted to safaris. You can’t beat the thrill of knowing you could be ripped to pieces by a pride of hungry lions at any moment. The wild dogs would eat your entrails, while the giraffes look on, chewing, but I digress.
Then there’s the boring stuff I have to make time for. Like working.
What keeps you writing?
I love it. It makes me happy. I’m not yet published but when you want something enough, you never give up.