About me FAQs

How old were you when you first went to school?

I  was four and a half. On my first day my mother took me and left me straight away which is what mother's had to do in those days.  I was very frightened at first.  I didn't like school as I had to sit still all day.  This was almost impossible for me and the teachers got cross when I didn't do as I was told.  There was a scary head teacher as tall as the sky, at least she seemed so to me, and I was often sent to stand outside her door for jumping around like Jack-in-a Box.  Later I went to a much nicer school where the teachers were more understanding about my urge to keep moving.

What games did you play when you were little?

We played cowboys and Indians and pirates a lot, I remember.  We climbed trees and used them as lookouts.  We made our dens in rhododendron bushes.  There was also a small pond where we built a raft and sailed the seven seas.  We were great gang of kids and the grown ups left us to it.  When my parents wanted my brother and me to go home they blew three blasts on a whistle.  Sometimes, if we were having a really good game, we pretended not to hear it.  

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was very small I wanted to be a famous horse rider.  I soon realised that was unlikely to happen.  Then I wanted to work in the theatre.  In the end I did own a pony and I have worked in the theatre as an actor and a puppeteer.  

When did you decide to become a writer?

I didn't decide to become a writer.  I was asked to get writing when drama programmes were needed.  Having had some success I decided writing was something I could do.  And when working as an actor it is something to do between jobs.  I was lucky that most of the scripts and stories I wrote were used.

Where do you get your ideas?

From all sorts of places!  I use my own experiences with horses, dogs and cats.  Reading other peoples stories often stimulates my imagination and reading newspapers and magazines.  I go to the theatre and cinema a lot and I enjoy talking to people about their lives too.  I'm always asking myself what would happen if?  Or what led up to that?  And I always want to know what is going to happen next?  Ideas pop into my head, often, when I least expect them.  I always carry a notebook.  It's at the ready to write the ideas down before I forget them.

Are your characters based on real people?

So far I have never deliberately used a real person in one of my stories.  I did use my dog, Meg.  She's a character in the Nellie and the Dragon stories and I based the pony Midnight Dancer on my pony, Hotspot.  Yet I am sure that my experience of real people influences how my characters behave.  There will be a little bit of me in there too somewhere!  Everything that happens in my life influences my imagination.

  

When was your first book published?

The first book I had published was a Heggerty Haggerty story in 1980. I've listed the six Heggerty Haggerty picture titles books that you might find in the Out of Print section.  I really enjoyed writing about Heggerty Haggerty, Broomstick and Blackcat and they share a special place in my memory, as they were the first prose stories I wrote.  

What do you most like about being a writer?

The nicest thing is being able to create a world where I am totally in charge.  Or at least I think I am when I start to write.  I find that my characters have minds of their own and often want to do things and go to places I hadn't thought of.  Sometimes my pen has to race to keep up with everything that's happening my head. I like that a lot.   I like writing when I want to.  If it's a lovely sunny day, I can take a notebook, go for a walk and pretend that I'm working even if I'm not.  I like doing that very much.