Q: When and how did you become an author?
I’ve always loved writing and it was definitely the thing I was best at when I was at school, but it never occurred to me that I could do it as a job. I worked in media relations for several years doing a lot of writing, but although I enjoyed it what I really wanted to do was write stories. When I had my children I had to take a break from my career as it involved a lot of late nights and weekend working and I decided to give creative writing a go. I didn’t think of it as a possible job even at that point, I just really wanted to do it. I went on a five-day creative writing course run by the Arvon Foundation because I just couldn’t get past the fear of the blank screen. I was convinced I had no ideas and that even if I did they’d be rubbish, and even if they weren’t I wouldn’t be able to write them. That course was life-changing. I had the idea for my first book The Year of The Rat on that course and started writing it but I had three very young children including a new baby which meant very little time for writing! Eventually I signed up to do an MA in Writing for Young People part-time at Bath Spa University and, almost four years after having that first idea, finished the manuscript! I sent it off to a brilliant agent who I’d met at a SCBWI event, Catherine Clarke, and then bit my nails and tried to work out what I’d do when no one wanted to publish my book. Fortunately she loved it and offered to represent me. The book then went to auction which felt unbelievable and I got to choose my publisher. It was a very wonderful and completely weird experience. Until the book was published I was convinced it had all been a terrible mistake or that I’d dreamt it.