I was born in a park in Paisley. There was a hospital in the park but that makes it sound less interesting. I was a sickly child. Sick over everything; the carpet, the car, next door’s cat. But, despite that, I grew up and went to school. I liked it there. I liked reading, writing stories and poems, and playtime. I also liked art but I wasn’t very good at it. I didn’t like maths and I wasn’t very good at that either.
Eventually I grew up even more and went to college and became a teacher. I had to teach maths but fortunately I always managed to get the book with the answers at the back. (Phew!) While I was student I worked in a shoe shop, a grocer’s shop and a sausage factory. I didn’t like the sausage factory much. My job was to wrap up the sausages very neatly in their cellophane packets. Sounds simple, but the sausages kept escaping and rolling on the floor. I was told to pick them up, dust them down and put them back. That put me off eating sausages.
For a long time writing was just a hobby. The first thing I had published was a poem. Then came some stories for radio and televison. After that, the hobby grew and grew till eventually I started having books published. When that happened, I gave up being a teacher, handed in my maths book with the answers at the back, and became a full time author.
Now I live with my husband in an old mill on the east coast of Scotland. My writing room is above the wheel house and is full of books, pens that don’t work any more, and things that might come in useful one day. Several small furry dogs that my children gave me when they were little peep out at me from between some of the books on the shelves. On the sofa sit three toys; Lammy Longlegs, Colonel Hare and Princess Matilda. Princess Matilda, who is very bossy, is always telling me I should write a story about her.. In the garden there are pheasants and frogs, moles and voles and several greater spotted woodpeckers. But, best of all, there are red squirrels. They zoom up and down the trees and pop into the squirrel box for some nuts when they’re hungry. They are very fussy eaters and certainly wouldn’t eat sausages. I don’t know how good they are at maths.
Do you have any children?
I have two children. A son and a daughter. When they were little they were quite naughty and I wrote some books called The Canterbury Tales about the things they got up to. There are three books. The Big sister’s Tale which is based on my daughter. The Little Brother’s Tale which is based on my son and, The Little Sister’s Tale which is not based on anyone as I’ve only got two children and I had to make one up!
Where do you write your stories?
I have a little room above the wheelhouse in the old mill where I live and I write there. I sit with my back to the window or I would watch the wild life in my garden all day long and get no work done. I’m kept company by several toy dogs and three other toys who sit on the sofa. Lammy Longlegs is quiet and shy. Colonel Hare is very boisterous and Princess Matilda is extremely bossy.
How many books have you written?
I’ve rather lost count as I’m not very good at maths, but it’s certainly over eighty.
What is your favourite colour?
Blue. Blue. Blue. Did I say Blue?
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to be an author?
Read as much as you can; books, comics, newspapers, back of the cornflake packet, it doesn’t matter, it will help your writing without you realizing and it’s great fun.
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