All about me…
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.
You can always email me over on the Contact page if you have any more questions!
I was born in London in 1976, but now I live just outside Reading, with my husband Jon and my three children, Ash, Robin and William.
I haven’t always been a writer. I used to work as an editor at Scholastic Children’s Books…
My first job…
I first went to work at Scholastic Children’s Books 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.
But 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.)
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.
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 extremely 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.
Lots More Books
I stopped working as an editor when I had Ash, my daughter. I did go back, but only for six months, because I felt like I never saw her. 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. Eventually I gave up editing, and now I just write. And drink coffee.
Quite often people ask how many books I’ve written. At the moment, it’s 156!
Lots of people also 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.
Are any of the stories true
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). Some of the animal stories are based on stories from newspapers, or stories about animals that belonged to friends, and lots of them are based on my own pets. My three cats, Milly, Poppy and Star, are doing their best to keep me supplied with cat-gets-into-trouble plots!
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.
Also, practically every character I write is scared of spiders! I am stupidly terrified of them!