I was born to two people who loved each other; unfortunately this didn’t last, so I’ve largely written off my childhood. Life really began when I went to Manchester University, aged eighteen, to study English.
However, I did write my first novel at the age of eight, in Mrs. Burgess’ class at Benson Primary School. It was about a small red plastic counter making its way through a game of Snakes and Ladders. I remember feeling the sensations of the counter as the dice throw meant that the snake was inevitable; I also remember the frustration of trying to communicate that feeling in words, and the sense that it was of paramount importance to succeed. That novel was never published, chiefly because I had to get changed for rounders.
I never gave up writing, but my failure to emulate Zadie Smith upon graduation meant that I had to earn a living another way. I started out in the Education Department at the Natural History Museum in London, then realised that the Education part of my job had become more and more interesting, and went off to train as a teacher.
I taught for ten years. During that time I wrote a play and took it to the Edinburgh Festival; I wrote a musical (with Rob Chalmers, the Head of Music at Ashcombe School, where we both worked at the time); I was Head of English, Music and Drama at Watford Grammar School for Girls, and finally at North Westminster Community School (which needs an entire section to itself, and is now an Academy). I loved teaching and was lucky to find, not a career, but a vocation. I miss it.
But I fell in love, and in 2004, I got married. Four children later, I’m working as hard as ever. I’ve kept my babies fed and warm and loved, but I’ve never stopped writing. Sometimes I even get some sleep, although now that I have secured that longed-for book deal, life looks all set to shift again.
I’ve always hoped that one day, everything would make some kind of sense. But now, after four decades on this beautiful planet, I realise that the sense isn’t in my gift. All I can do is the best with what I’ve been given, and to help others along the way. I hope that The Ship will be a success and that I’ll publish more novels in the future. I hope that, as a published writer, I’ll get the opportunity to teach again in a different context. I’ll certainly always be glad to hear from schools who would like a writer to visit, as well as from book groups, libraries, bookshops, creative writing courses, writers both published and aspiring, and anyone who enjoys reading.
Thank you for reading. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to hear about, or hear more about – after all, if life is not about making connections, what is there left?