I write fantasy adventure books for children aged 7 and upwards, with lots of magic and humour, because those are the books I like best myself. I have always loved reading and stories: as a child I either had my nose in a book or I was in the middle of some fantastic made-up adventure game with my sister and our friends. (That’s when I didn’t have to be at school, of course – although some of the adventures carried on in installments in the playground…)
When I was seven I moved with my family to live on a barge on the River Medway in Kent. Moving from a house to a barge was quite a strange thing to do, but I loved it. Altogether I lived on four different boats before moving when I was seventeen to a ruin in the middle of nowhere in north Wales. You can find out more about my life on boats here.
One of my dreams when I was a child was to become a children’s author – another was to become a great explorer. As a grown-up, I became an anthropologist (almost an explorer!) and lived in a south Indian fishing village for a year, rather like the one in the photo. It was quite an adventure – I travelled around on a motorbike, and lived partly in the village, and partly in the nearby capital city, Trivandrum. I wrote a book about life in the fishing community in Kerala, and then taught social anthropology for ten years. I worked together with my partner, Philip (also an anthropologist) at the University of Edinburgh, then LSE and Goldsmiths and finally the University of Kent at Canterbury.
We left Canterbury and moved to Devon in 2006 with our three children (then 11, 7 and 3) and I decided to try my hand at my other dream – writing. Frogspell was my first book, published by Templar in 2011. It was a Richard and Judy Children’s Book Club choice for Spring 2012.
Now I spend my time writing, editing other people’s books (mostly non-fiction), visiting schools and festivals, and trying to stop our rather falling-down house from actually falling down. Oh – and I occasionally get a chance to do some pottery at a friend’s workshop, take a trip on my dad’s barge Marius, or go to the beach!