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'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)!