Foto: Jenny McLachlan
Mention three fun facts that your fans maybe don’t know about you
I’ve held a baby penguin. I’ve been chased by an elephant. I’ve been bitten by hundreds of baby spiders.
When did you know that you wanted to become an author?
I knew for sure after I had my daughters. I wanted to write the sort of books I would want them to read when they were teenagers. As it happens, my oldest daughter is now about the right age to read my books but much prefers fantasies. Hey ho!
How long have you been writing? And what started it?
I’ve been writing seriously for about 15 years. It all began when I went on holiday with my husband and we got notebooks and wrote mini-sagas for each other. The things two English teachers do for fun!
Who discovered you? (Did you contact publishing houses? How was the process?)
I sent my manuscript to the agent Julia Churchill and she took me on. I had an unusually easy journey to publication, but it had taken me around seven years to write the book.
How many books have you published (so far)? And which genre?
I have had six romantic comedies published and this year I will also have five books for much younger children published.
Why this story? What made you choose this specific theme?
It’s really hard to pinpoint where this story came from, but it definitely had its starting point in the students I taught. Not one specific student, but several things that came together in my mind. There was a student at our school who used a wheelchair and this was often left outside the classroom she was working in. I never actually taught her, but, in my mind, she became Annie.
What inspires you to write? Which authors have inspired you? (Music, art, things in life?)
I find music quite inspiring. I often find that my mind goes on fantastic journeys when I’m at a gig or running and listening to music. It’s not so much the lyrics, but the mood the music evokes. I’m also inspired by my daughters and the students I have taught. They are funny, creative and strong minded. I want to write books which feature young people like them.
What is the message of your book? How should the reader interpret it?
The message of this book is about learning to be brave, and how this can also mean learning to be vulnerable. It is also a book about how kind human beings can be.
How do you identify with the character(s) in your book?
I can certainly identify with Annie when she is frightened about taking the plunge and losing some of her hard-earned independence. it’s hard to lay yourself open to the possibility of being hurt. As Yeats says, so much better than me, in The Cloths of Heaven ‘I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.’
What are you currently reading?
Skylarks by Karen Gregory
Mention 3 book titles that you wish to recommend
Here are the three I’ve recently read: IQ by Joe Ide, The Children at Castle Rock by Natasha Farrant and Dead Wake by Eric Larson. All different and all excellent.
When is your next book going to be published?
I don’t know! I think I have a reader coming out quite soon…