WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
When I gave up teaching after almost 20 years, I suddenly found that I had the time for something I’d always wanted to do, and that was to write a book. I knew from the outset that I wanted to write for children, but I had no idea just how much I would love my new career. When the opportunity arises, I really enjoy going into schools as a visiting author to talk to the pupils; their participation and enthusiasm always make it such a rewarding experience.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
I had a sudden epiphany whilst on a flight from the UK to France. The idea for my Shadows from the Past series just popped into my head, almost fully-formed. I spent the rest of the journey, working out the plot, the characters, and ideas for each book. I couldn’t wait to reach home and start writing.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“Jemima felt sure there couldn’t ever be another cat quite like this one in the whole wide world, and she was right, for Max was utterly unique.”
This sums Max up perfectly. The larger-than-life Tonkinese cat is rather special as he’s able to speak, thanks to a magic owl charm he wears on his collar, and he’s always there to save the children when they get into tricky situations. An amusing character, Max also brings an element of humour into the stories. For me, and for many of my readers, he is the true hero of my stories.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I’m probably most like Jemima Lancelot, the young girl who is one of my trio of time-travelers. I’m devoted to my Tonkinese cat, I’m thoughtful and loyal, but I’m not too keen when it comes to doing anything scary. Also, I do have a bit of a stubborn streak – although I prefer to call it determined!
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
As I take my young readers on a magical mystery tour through the past, I'm hoping that my love of history, myth, and legend will rub off on them too. By encouraging them to discover that history can be exciting, I hope to leave them with a thirst to find out more.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I once received a message from an 8-year-old, telling me “This is the best book I have read in my whole life.” Her list of favourite books must have been acquired over two years at the most but, it goes without saying that I felt extremely honoured to feature so highly!
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
Enid Blyton. I hope that my books have a flavour of simple childhood innocence, combined with plenty of mystery and adventure.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
I’ve been a total bookworm since I was very young, and all the books I’ve read and loved over the years have left their mark on me in some way. I couldn’t pin it down to just one thing, but I’ve always admired any author who can create a gripping plot, believable and sympathetic characters, realistic dialogue, and can transport me to another place, immersing me so completely in the story that I don’t want it to end – that’s a true gift.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I started out with an agent and a publisher, via the usual manuscript submission route, but decided they weren’t working in my best interests. Let down by endless excuses and empty promises, I wasted two years waiting in vain for them to send back the second proof of my book. Eventually, I got myself released from my contract and, through a fellow writer, joined Mauve Square Publishing, an independent publishing group which has about 10 authors in its stable. As writers, we all have ultimate control over our work and are not constricted by tight schedules, whilst benefiting from the security of belonging to a small publishing company.
IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
You’ll never know until you try, so don’t be scared, take a deep breath, and get started. Believe in yourself and enjoy what you write.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
As a children’s author, getting positive feedback from my target audience is the most rewarding experience. When young readers write to me, saying I’m their favourite author, it gives me a lovely warm glow inside. One little girl recently told me she’d already read my latest book 6 times. However, winning awards such as the Literary Classics Book Awards, makes me truly proud of my achievement.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
My main hope is to carry on writing and that children will continue to enjoy reading my stories. Of course, if someone were also to come along and say, “Hey, these books would make a great movie”, well that would just be an added bonus!
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
When I’m not writing books, I spend time researching my family history. Whenever I need names for the characters in my stories, I find them in my family tree. Jemima Lancelot, one of my three young time-travelers, was actually my six-time great-grandmother.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Max, my feline hero, was my very own Tonkinese cat. Devastatingly handsome, he was a lovable, gentle giant who charmed everyone who met him. Sadly, he is no longer with us, but his legacy lives on in my books.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Since the competition, I have published the ninth book in my Shadows from the Past series, The Shadow of the Tudor Rose and another adventure for Max – Max’s Hallowe’en Adventure.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I’m currently working on the next full-length book in the Shadows series – The Shadow of the Witchfinder.
In these shorter books to accompany the Shadows from the Past series, the time-travelling cat goes on solo missions and this one will lead straight into the next full-length story, The Shadow of the Witchfinder. It will be available on Kindle via Amazon.com and the paperback version should follow soon after.
LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org