I was born in West London, and grew up there. We lived in a culture de sac, which is a road that doesn’t go anywhere else, so there weren’t many cars that went down there. I lived with my mum, dad and two older brothers. I didn’t like having brothers; I wanted a sister! I remember playing in the street with our skateboards. We would sit on them facing and holding onto each other, and go down the hill like that, and usually fall off at the end.
We had two cats, Kanga and Roo, and they were mother and daughter. Kanga used to wrap her front legs around my neck when I picked her up. She would follow me up to the main road when I went out, and wait at the top for me to come back. I think maybe she thought she was a dog!
I went to Stanley Road School, which was opposite another school where my mum worked. At the end of the day, I would cross over and wait at my mum’s school for her to finish. I used to enjoy climbing the ropes that hang down from the apparatus. I don’t think she has them anymore, but I loved climbing, and I still like to climb trees occasionally. There were some people I would never speak to; I don’t know why. I grew out of it eventually.
When I was 15, I wanted my own money, so I started the first of many weekend and evening jobs. It was at the local ice rink. I worked there for two years, in the cloakroom giving out the ice skates, but I never even learned to skate! I wish I had as I would love to skate with my girls now, but I am too scared of falling over.
I had a few jobs I didn’t like much. One was in a café, for instance and another was in a shop selling electrical equipment. My nicest job was in a theatre bar, serving drinks. We had to work really quickly just before the plays started, and at the interval, but that was quite fun because it didn’t last long. I had another job I liked at a library, but it was really quiet because for some reason not many people went to that library. I would read Asterix or Tin Tin books, or do my homework a lot of the time. I always liked children’s books, and I still do!
When I was 18, I started training to be a physiotherapist, which took three years. I am not the type that you see running onto the pitch in a football match. I work with people whose brain doesn’t work properly, so they can’t move how and when they want to. The brain is very good at growing and changing the pathways of its nerves, so people can learn to move more easily. This is also why you can learn anything, at any age, although it is often easier when you are younger.
I didn’t start learning to write books until I was grown up, and had three children, all girls. I started The Boy Who series when they were young, and I didn’t have time to finish them. Ten years later I managed it, so I’m glad I didn’t give up and forget about them. I wrote them in rhyme because the books I like best are all ones that rhyme, and I actually find it easier to write them like that. My favourite is the one where the boy has grown up, and his daughter has an adventure (the girl who galloped on a reindeer). I like it because you have to decide what you think actually happened in all the books. I wonder what you will decide?
I moved to Derby, in the East Midlands, over 30 years ago. I now live in an old Victorian house, which has attic rooms that were built for servants at the time. They are much smaller than the bedrooms meant for the owners of the house, with slanty walls where the roof is, but I think they are cosy and much nicer. There is something called a dumb waiter, which is a cupboard that moves from the kitchen downstairs, to what would have been the dining room upstairs, by pulling on ropes. It would be a great place to hide.
We have two dogs. Pepper is a German Shepherd. She is extremely bouncy, and loves balls, sticks, water, and our other dog, Leo. Leo is a rescue dog from Croatia, and he loves food! He is very stubborn and determined, and good at getting what he wants, quietly and sneakily. He is a bit cat like.
We also have four cats, eight mice, three gerbils, a tortoise and some fish and newts in a pond outside.
I hope you like reading my books, as I enjoyed writing them. It is very exciting for me to imagine you listening to them at bedtime, the same way my girls heard me read to them.