When I was a child, I wanted to be a witch. My first foray into writing was a series of nasty spells full of rats’ tails and bats’ wings. Then, when I turned thirteen, I began keeping a lurid diary, full of adoration or loathing, depending on who I was writing about. I used my later diaries for the Diving In trilogy.
I never thought ‘I want to be a writer’, but I loved books and writing. At school, I was rubbish at just about everything but English, so I went on to Kent University where I did two degrees in English and American Literature. At Kent, I fell dramatically in love with Jeff, the man I'm still married to. We had loads of fights and adventures, but we kept coming back together. He's still the person I most want to spend time with. Awww!
My first proper job was in a publishing house, Time Life Books, as a copy-editor. It felt very glamorous. I used to go to the huge YMCA on Tottenham Court Road at lunchtime and do aerobics classes (very big in the 1980s and yes - I wore legwarmers). Then I'd fall asleep over my desk in the afternoon.
When my two kids came along, I set up as a freelance copy-editor and worked from home. By chance I got given some teenage books to edit, and I hated the way they treated sexual relationships: they were either full of gloom and doom, or were gushy, unrealistic candyfloss. So I got bitten by the ‘I can do better than this’ bug, and started writing. I remember the first day I started to write - it took me over. I forgot to eat (unthinkable for me) and I nearly forgot to collect the kids from school. About a year after that, Diving In was accepted for publication.
When I ran out of material from my diaries and memories, I realized my daughter and son were teenagers, and started eavesdropping on them and their friends. They were extremely tolerant about this although they did sometimes demand money from me.
I wrote at least a book a year for some 15 years, and really enjoyed it - I had lovely editors and a lot of freedom! Big changes have happened in the last few years - my kids have left home, and Jeff is doing the sort of work that means he can work from home a lot of the time. So we've sold up and moved into the wilds of the country and I absolutely love it. The space, the silence, the woods, seeing the stars and bats at night and hearing the owls, the walks, the great food in the local pubs - everything! I'd started to bring nature into my books - it all started with Crow Girl - and then Possessed and Fire followed. So the move was very much linked to and helped my writing. I think the sheer beauty and sensual power of nature is something a lot of kids are cut off from today. And nature is a powerful and threatening force in Witch Crag, as it reclaims the land post-apocalyse.
I've also got myself another job, helping out at my daughter's on-line wedding boutique - www.weddinginateacup.co.uk. It's a wonderful place full of goodies for creative brides who want weddings away from the mainstream, and it's doing really well. I'm involved writing blurb, answering emails, picking and packing, and wrapping ribbon onto spools (which I love, it's so calming - like knitting only easier.) Do check her website out, all you romantics out there.
I'm now a grandmother, which has made me even more deliriously emotional and happy than I thought it would. I spend lots of time babysitting and feel very privileged if occasionally very exhausted!
And I've stopped writing for now - my publishers and I came to the end of the road after more than 15 excellent years. It feels good to have a breather - I'm not looking for a new publisher. I plan to get my whole backlist up as e books -I'm half way there. And I still love long conversations, long walks, reading, gardening and white wine (in moderation of course)!