Q. Where do you get you ideas from?

A. People ask me this a lot and I always feel a bit of a cheat when I say 'everywhere' but it's true. I always have at least one notebook in my bag and usually about 3 pens (2 of them inevitably without tops and leaking everywhere)! Whenever anything catches my eye or makes me laugh I jot it down. It doesn't matter whether it seems relevant to whatever I'm writing at that moment because you never know when things will come in handy.

I particularly like listening to people's conversations. OK OK I know that makes me sound like a terrible snoop, but it's 'research' so it's alright, and I'm very subtle when I'm doing it!

The thing is that if I'm on a train or in a cafe I'll hear random snippets of a conversation and the chances are that I won't know anything about the people involved. So I start to imagine the people in my mind - why did they say that? Where do they live? What makes them laugh? Cry? And before I know it there are a few seeds which I can plant to make, if not a whole story, at least a tiny part of one.

Whenever I travel I keep a journal. I write down what has happened every day, what I've seen, how I feel, even what a place smells like. It's always a great souvenir, to look back on later when I'm at home and a little bit fed up. And whenever I travel there's always something which inspires me, which makes me think 'that would be a great story'. Travelling in Zambia made a massive impact on me and sowed the seeds for 'On The Flipside'.


Q. What made you want to be an author?

A. I was never any good at Maths at school but I loved English. I loved creating characters, the weirder the better! Until I was about 8 I shared a bedroom with my sister Felicity who is 2 years older than me. Sometimes we used to tell each other 'caravan stories'. We pretended that we were driving around in an old double-decker bus and told each other about all the people we met along the way. We usually got quite silly and laughed and laughed and it usually ended with my Dad coming in and telling us to 'settle down', but that is a really happy memory for me.

Being an author means that I can spend a lot of time day-dreaming and have the perfect excuse that 'I'm thinking about my book'! And I can create characters who I'd love to meet - larger-than-life, quirky, off-beat characters. I'm very shy myself so it's great to imagine what it would be like to be very confident.

Quite often if I've been really upset by a situation it feels good to write it down. I write it as though it has happened to one of my characters and it helps me get a little bit of distance from it, some 'perspective' is I suppose the posh term! It always makes me feel better doing that anyway. It's worth a try if ever you're really upset.

I suppose the biggest thrill for me is the thought that I might, just might, have made someone laugh.


If you weren’t an author what would you be?

Well I was going to train to be a teacher, but if I’m honest I don’t think I would have been much good at it. I think teaching is a really hard job, one you have to be dedicated to. Everyone always remembers their favourite teacher, don’t they? Mine was without a doubt Mrs Flint. She taught me in Year 4 and was so inspirational. (Actually she was my second favourite teacher because my Mum taught me in year 1!)  I just don’t think I’d have the dedication it takes to be a great teacher like that.

I always think it sound pretty cool to be a Forensic Scientist too, but I really don’t think I’m clever enough for that!


What were your favourite books when you were growing up?

I used to absolutely love ‘Paddington’ books, they made me laugh and laugh and actually still do. I also loved the ‘Just William’ stories and ‘Finn Family Moomintroll’ or indeed any of the ‘Moomin’ stories (oh to have thought up that name!!) I loved ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ by Dorothy Edwards  too.
These days I absolutely love the Georgia Nicolson books my Louise Rennison.

As you can see, I like funny books best of all!