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Stuff you might want to know
When I get letters from people who like my books, they always ask loads of really interesting (sometimes weird!) questions. So this page is meant to answer all the questions you can possibly think of. Or at least all the ones I can possibly think of.
Contact me using the button above (coming soon) if you have more!
I was born in London in 1976, but now I live just outside Reading, with my husband Jon and my three children, Tom, Robin and William.
I haven’t always been a writer. I used to work as an editor at Scholastic Children’s Books.
Scholastic Children’s Books
I first went there when I was 15 to do work experience (when you go and find out what different jobs are like, and mostly do photocopying). I went back every summer and begged and begged until they gave me a job after I left university. I loved being an editor.
When I was much younger I wanted to be a librarian, because I thought that librarians got to spend the whole day reading all the books in the library. I was very disappointed when I found this wasn’t true. (After that I wanted to be an archaeologist, but I gave up on that idea after I discovered most archaeology was not about pyramids but meant getting wet, cold and muddy, and involved a lot of very complicated science.)
Being an editor
Editors do actually get to spend a lot of the day reading. And making coffee. How exciting to read books by fantastic people even before they are finished, and be able to say, "Oooh, I really liked that girl with the red hair. You should put more about her in. In fact, why don’t you write a whole book just about her?" And that sort of thing.
Now I write books, it’s very useful, because I can try to think like an editor about my own work (except it’s very hard to do when it means cutting bits out). But at least I’m less grumpy when other people tell me I need to change things, because I’ve made so many other authors do it too...
My first book
I wrote my first book while I was still working at Scholastic. Editors sometimes come up with an idea for a book, which they suggest to an author, and that was the plan with the Triplets series. I came up with the idea of triplet sisters who looked exactly the same, but were totally different underneath. By the time I had named them Becky, Katie and Annabel, and given them a family and a school and thought about how they’d react if a rat ate their bridemaids’ dresses, I didn’t want to let anybody else write those books!
I wrote the first book, Becky’s Terrible Term, on a train – actually, lots of trains.
Scribbling on the floor
I lived in Reading by then, but the Scholastic offices are in London, so I had a half-hour train journey every morning and evening. I had a big spiral bound notebook, and I scribbled (my writing is very messy) all the way from Reading to Paddington, sometimes even if I was sitting on the floor of the train (those trains are very busy). The scary part was showing the other editors I worked with – none of them knew I was planning to write the book myself. Luckily, they liked it enough to tell me to keep going.
Often people want to know how old I was when I wrote my first book. I loved writing and making my own books when I was much younger, but Becky’s Terrible Term was the first actual whole book I wrote, and I was 28.
Becoming a Writer
I stopped working as an editor when I had Tom, my oldest son. I did go back, but only for six months, because I felt like I never saw him. So I decided to work from home, copy-editing (which is when you make sure the author doesn't say someone has blue eyes in chapter one and brown eyes in chapter three) and writing.
Quite often people ask how many books I’ve written. At the last count it’s 7 Triplets books, 4 Stage School books, 7 Catmagic books, 7 Molly’s Magic books, 21 animal books, 4 Rose books, 2 Lily books, 7 My Naughty Little Puppy books, and 2 Four Friends Forever books. And A Cat Called Penguin. But not all of those are published yet, and some of them still need rewriting and bits finishing off. Still, 62. Gosh.
Where do my ideas come from?
Lots of people want to know where I get my ideas from. I think this is probably the question most authors dread. It’s so hard because there isn’t really one simple answer, like, from under the bed. It’s a whole mixture of things. Sometimes someone will suggest an idea to you – for the Rose books, my editor Kirsty asked me if I could write something about becoming magical. But that was it! I had to take it from there, and in fact I went through two other ideas first, neither of which quite worked, although I have a secret fondness for one of them, and might go back to it sometime. The only thing similar to Rose is that this idea has a talking cat too, but he’s also a boy and quite possibly a ghost...
Lots of the things that happen in my books really did happen, but not to me (and none of the magic has happened to anyone, unfortunately, it’s all wishful thinking (And wouldn’t that be a fabulous name for someone? Keeping a note of that idea. Maybe one day...). Some of the animal stories are based on stories from newspapers, or stories about animals that belonged to friends.
Some of the people are real, too, but disguised. Becky, from the Triplets books, is a not-very-well disguised version of what I was like at school. Except I probably read more books than she did, and I didn’t have two identical sisters. I was horribly shy though.
You’ve probably worked out from reading my books that I like cats. And dogs. Even the books that aren’t really meant to be about animals get hijacked by them sometimes. So there’s a whole separate section about animals here.
The strangest things can set off a story in your head sometimes. It doesn’t have to be a plot idea. With the Animalmagic books, I thought up the shop before I’d ever thought of Lottie and what was going to happen to her. I was walking along an office corridor, and suddenly thought how wonderful it would be to have a pet shop full of animals that talked.
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