For a long time I dreamed of being a writer but it took me a while to have the confidence to write a whole novel. When I began, I wrote about everything I love: adventure, mystery, the wonder of the natural world (as well as its darker aspects) with threads of ancient history and folklore thrown in. Someone recently described me as a ‘benevolent forest-witch’!
Books and writing have always been central to my life, so much so that I chose to study English at university. I went to Exeter College, Oxford, which is the inspiration for Jordan College in ‘His Dark Materials’ by Philip Pullman. Amazingly, when I trained to be a teacher, Pullman was one of my tutors and he might even have been writing his trilogy at that time! After qualifying, I taught English at Secondary level and then more recently had the opportunity to work with younger children in a Middle School.
I love exploring landscapes as they provide inspiration and opportunity for adventurous experiences like caving, mountain climbing or even sea kayaking! The histories of places, their tragic pasts, ancient conflicts and strange folklore all fascinate me. And always I delight in learning about wildlife, whether carrying out adder surveys, setting up cameras to record otters, or identifying fungi.
Being close to nature has been proven to have a positive effect on mental health, and the mental well-being of young people particularly is a subject close to my heart. I believe it’s important to represent mental illness in fiction, and show hopeful outcomes.
I currently live in Bristol in the UK with my husband and three sons. Exploring takes me to the Mendip Hills, the Quantocks, or the Wye Valley – anywhere within reach – just give me a map and I’m off.
My gorgeous little red collie, Poppy, is my constant companion, and she provides an excellent excuse for adventure. I also take her agility training, which she’d be very good at if she had a decent handler – she’s so fast and focused! I’d love to compete with her someday, though I think I lack the coordination. (Maneuvering round a course is a little like doing dance movements at speed!)
Because of my passion for the natural world, I’m horribly aware of the threat to its future. The new trauma that landscapes carry is the ecological disaster we have inflicted. Part of my mission is to communicate an understanding of the natural environment to young people, so they might grow to love, respect and protect what’s left, before it’s too late.
I’m represented by fabulous Jo Williamson from Antony Harwood agents.