I was born a princess in a castle.
I was pretty and always wore white.
I wore flowers in my hair and I had a pet bear
And I slept in my crown every night.
I sang and gave poetry readings.
The most popular girl in my class.
I was clever and tall and a real know it all
Quite frankly, a bit of an a
nd quite enough poetry, I think. I'll tell you the truth in prose, it's easier. It's quite long. You can skip some of it if you get bored. I just think I should be thorough.
WHERE WAS I BORN?
I was born in Devon, near the town of Plymouth, in 1946. I played out on the street because there's weren't so many cars then. I spent a lot of time on the beach, because Plymouth is on the coast.
WHAT WAS I LIKE?
Chubby and freckly, with ringlets that had to be put in rags every night, so you got knobbly sleep. I was always chosen last for the rounders team. Maybe because I wasn't sleeping well and couldn't see the ball properly.
DID I HAVE BROTHERS AND SISTERS?
No. No brothers, no sisters, no television, no computer and not many toys. We didn't have a car or much money. We stayed in and listened to the radio whilst weaving our own furniture. I spent a lot of time reading to amuse myself and when I ran out of library books, I wrote my own stories. My best ever birthday present was on my eleventh birthday, when I got an old fashioned typewriter. It was so heavy I couldn't carry it. It's still up there in the loft, probably bringing the ceiling down, I really should go and check.
HOW WAS SCHOOL?
I didn't work hard enough at school. The teachers were a bit mean in those days and I got in trouble because I daydreamed too much. I was a bit stage struck and went in for a lot of music competitions, which was great because you got time off school. At play times, I made my friends act in plays I had written. Sometimes they got fed up and began avoiding me or simply refused to co-operate, preferring to play two-ball against the wall of the girls' toilets. (Nobody plays that any more. I wonder why?) I didn't let it get me down, though. I always wrote another one.
WHAT DID MY MUM AND DAD DO?
My mum was a music teacher, so I learnt to play piano from the cradle(although a baby, I had very long arms.) I sang too, tra-la-la! Songs about little lost lambs and ash groves, which I always thought referred to a forest fire until I found out about the tree. My dad was a retired teacher, who encouraged me to read a lot not that I needed encouragement. I always had my nose in a book.
When I left school, I came to London to train as a teacher. I taught for years and years. I liked teaching music, drama and creative writing. The best part of teaching was putting on the school play. I did some acting and music in my spare time. I loved acting until one awful night when I forgot my lines, which put me right off, even though the audience was polite and pretended not to notice. I carried on writing stories too, just as a hobby. I met my husband (Mo) over thirty years ago and we formed a soul band and played in the evenings and at weekends, also for years and years. We never became rich and famous, but we had a lot of fun. Mo has been working on this website, which is why it's taken so long because he also does everything else. I am eternally grateful to him, as it has been a long haul which was supposed to have saved us money.
WHEN DID I FIRST GET PUBLISHED?
I got my first children's book published just before I had my daughter who is now twenty three, arrrrgh, where does the time go? The baby was new and called Ella. The book was a collection of songs for kids and called Phantasmagoria. I still write music books, along with plays, poems, novels and picture books. I never ever get bored. If I won the lottery and became a millionaire, I would carry on writing, because I enjoy it so much although I still get stuck sometimes.
MY BAD HABITS
I can be lazy. I don't do enough exercise. I try and get out of cooking. I get grumpy when books aren't going well. I listen in on private conversations and sometimes steal them for my books. I bite my nails. If I'm enjoying what I'm writing, sometimes I forget to brush my hair. I buy too many shoes. My husband empties the rubbish and clears up the cats' fur balls and I just sit and watch Judge Judy. If my husband gets up in the morning and steps in a cold fur ball, I laugh. I am unsympathetic when other people are ill, but demand attention and moan a lot when it's me.
WHERE AM I NOW ?
I now live in North London with Mo, Ella and two cats called Heathcliff and Jeremy. It used to be Charlie and Alfie, but they both died. I think I dedicated a book to them. I write every day, in a little office at the top of the house. It is full of shelves. I keep lots of my favourite things there. A witch hat. Photos. A broomstick. A singing teddy. My first pair of baby boots. Letters from children. It has fairy lights in the ceiling, so when I turn a switch, the stars come out. Heathcliff comes and helps me work by eating the fringe on my piano stool and jumping on my piles. Yes, despite shelves, I do have piles. They are all over the floor. Paper piles, I hasten to add although I understand that continuous sitting can bring on the other sort, which is why I try to walk each day.The cats come in and help me.
MY WONDERFUL AGENT
My wonderful agent is Caroline Sheldon. She took me on when I was writing my very first Pongwiffy book. We have worked together for over twenty years. She deals with all the scary business side of things as well as being the first outside the family to read everything I write. She is an amazing agent and a good friend. I don't know what I'd do without her. She regularly buys me lunch, too, which I never refuse. And never fails to admire my shoes.
You can contact her by emailing The Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency at : firstname.lastname@example.org
CATS I HAVE KNOWN AND LOVED
Twinkle, Micky, Suzie, Baloo, Simon, Beulah, Merlyn, Nina, Sid, Norman, Charlie, Tilly One, Tilly two, Alfie, Heathcliff and Jeremy. That's sixteen, and they were all absolutely wonderful. I miss Charlie most, though.
This bit is about ME