How I Became a Writer

When I do school visits, one question I’m often asked is whether I wanted to be an author as a child. Everyone seems surprised when I say no – I enjoyed writing, but I really really loved to read. My original career choice was to be a librarian, so I could just sit in a room full of books all day.

I did think about being an archaeologist for a while, as one of my favourite books was a children’s history book on the Egyptians. Then I discovered that archaeology was a bit muddy, so I changed my mind.

As well as loving books, I was rather animal-obsessed. We had a cat, Rosie, and I spent a lot of time chasing her around so I could try to dress her in my dolls’ clothes. Obviously I don’t recommend this! She was very tolerant, but I did usually end up with scratched hands.

Over the years, other pets our family had were: a chocolate-coloured mouse called Truffle who spent most of his life in a box on the Aga recovering from constant colds, twelve gerbils, two hamsters and two dogs. Not everything in my animal stories actually happened to us, but our animals did seem to have quite a lot of adventures…

My mother and I created the idea behind Lost in the Snow, the first animal book I wrote, very early on. I think I must only have been about four or five, so it’s quite hard to remember the detail s, but we had a game we played, telling a heartrending story about a lost kitten – with sound effect s supplied by me. I still make a very good mee-ooo, mee-ooo sad kitten noise…