How I became a writer
I've always made up stories. When I was a child, I did it in my head - usually using characters from my favourite TV programmes. But I never saw it as a possible career especially as I never liked English at school. Perhaps I was already too much a writer at heart to enjoy dissecting other people's stories.
So I left school and became a maths teacher which I didn't enjoy very much. Then I left teaching and became a mother which I loved. Finally, in the time left over from mothering, I became a writer which I found was enormous fun.
This video of me talking about writing was made for the Usborne Young Writers Award.
New writers are often advised to 'write what they know' and that's certainly how I started. My first book, A Special Child in the Family, was triggered by my own experiences parenting two sons with cystic fibrosis and so was my first non-fiction children's book, The Hospital Highway Code. My maths and science background still shows in my other non-fiction writing, and my life-long passion for horses helped me write The Pony-Mad Princess and There Must Be Horses.
I love making people laugh and my sense of humour often creeps into my writing. That's probably why I enjoyed writing for The Knowledge, Scholastic's non-fiction series which is well known for its jokey way of presenting serious information. It's definitely why I like writing scripts for animation - cartoon stories are usually played for laughs so I can put in as many jokes as I like.
My sense of humour also had a big influence on Amy Wild - Animal Talker - a series I think of as a sitcom for children. I invented the cats first and for several years that was as far as I got. They were characters in search of a story. Then I thought of Amy and the island where she lives, and suddenly the cats had found a home.