My stories have always been a bit on the dark side. Although she doesn't remember, I once told my sister such a sad tale (through the medium of song, no less) that she sobbed her little heart out. This was when we were pretty little and I got a jolly good telling off. Funnily enough, that story was about two girls, one of whom had died. I think the idea for Black Heart Blue must have been swimming around in my brain for decades. I don't know if I wanted to be a writer in those days, but I definitely produced some little books and illustrated them myself (very poorly).
At secondary school I carried on with the whole bookish thing whilst being horse mad. English was definitely my favourite subject. In those days they didn't have books which were classified as YA, but my favourite author as a younger teen was Judy Blume. I distinctly recall being allowed to purchase Deenie from the Hale Village Bookshop and being over the moon. I must have read it hundreds of times. I loved Jacqueline Wilson, as my own daughter does now, and recently reread one of her books from the 1980s - Waiting for the Sky To Fall. It's fab YA. I had great fun at school - Loreto in Altrincham in Cheshire - and great fun out of school too. Living near Manchester was a great boon - fortunately my parents let me go out and enjoy the nightlife the city had to offer! Then it all got a bit more serious and I ended up studying English at Oxford.
I mainly wrote poetry at university which ended up in a bin somewhere after I graduated. I had some terrible jobs after I left. Instead of being sensible and doing a law conversion course, as my parents sagely advised, I packed a suitcase and got on a train to London. Once I grew sick of doing tedious office jobs and living in a nasty flat in West Harrow, I moved to Cambridge where I qualified as an English teacher. We had some fun in those days - I was in a band with my husband and played the bass guitar (not well!) and wrote plenty of songs. I still enjoy having the occasional strum, but I wouldn't do it in public!
I had my first daughter and began to write seriously, producing my first novel when living in Zurich. It didn't sell but I loved the process and had well and truly caught the writing bug. I knew that this was what I wanted to do forever. I loved living abroad, every day was exciting and I got to use my A level German which had been lying dormant for years. Then I had another daughter and stopped writing - my only excuse is sleep-deprivation and being pretty darn grumpy. We moved back to England, I went back to working as a teacher at St Mary's School in Cambridge, was inspired by my pupils' avid reading habits and wrote another novel. It never saw the light of day, but it got me back into the groove. Black Heart Blue came next and here we are!
I live near Cambridge with my husband and children. I write when I'm not teaching and doing all the other stuff that needs to be done. I've just finished the first draft of the second book I'm contracted to write for Penguin and am looking forward to doing some serious editing. I go to sleep thinking about books and wake up thinking about them. The whole process of book production is brilliant fun and I know how lucky am I to finally have the job of my dreams.