I’m a writer and travel junkie from rural North Yorkshire in the UK. I enjoy speaking Spanish (badly). I eat too many Maltesers, spend too much time Googling flight deals and I’m not brilliant at cooking.
The travel bug was probably caught from friends and family, especially my great-granddad who travelled the world during the First World War. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some really great places. And it was a trip to Australia that inspired me to write Everybody Jam, my first novel.
My life so far...
Here's a list of some of the things that have happened in my life so far...
I was born in rural North Yorkshire, the second of three children. I have an older brother Rob and three years after I came along, our younger brother, Matt, arrived. The fact I’d clearly asked my parents for a sister, but was given a brother caused my three-year-old self some confusion back then. I have forgiven Matt for being a boy now though. Afterall, if it wasn’t for growing up with two brothers, I doubt I would have been able to imagine a voice like Danny Dawson’s in Everybody Jam.
Fame comes calling...
When I was 13 (the same age as Danny in Everybody Jam) the director of the BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small came to my school looking for children to cast in the programme. I was picked to play the part of vet’s daughter Rosie Herriot and I had the most amazing experience filming the show. For a start I got to miss a bit of school and I went to see Top of the Pops being filmed. Jason Donovan was on the show. He was a dead famous actor and pop star then. I’ve got some photos taken during filming.
This wasn't in the script...
I had a sledging accident and fractured two vertebrae (bones in my back). It meant I had to spend a few months in hospital miles from my home and so I missed quite a bit of my A-levels. My teachers advised me to defer and re-sit my exams a year later, but I didn’t want to delay going to university so chose to carry on. The results? I scraped through. I passed two A-levels, (and failed two) which luckily was just enough for me to get onto the course I wanted at university.
Writing for the local rag...
After university I had a variety of bar jobs and worked in a book shop. Then I got my first job in journalism, working as a trainee reporter for the local paper, The Darlington & Stockton Times. Being paid to write was pretty cool, but more importantly it was my first proper job in journalism and the best foundation I could have ever had for a career in writing. The meticulous sub-editors (they’re the ones who arranged the stories on each page) soon made sure I’d learned how to use an apostrophe!
I managed to get enough money together to fulfil a dream - to travel. I sold my house and used the money to buy a round the world ticket. I arrived in India after my first ever long haul flight, to 43 degree heat and a place that was as terrifying and exciting as it was hot – called Delhi. I loved it. I travelled around the North West of India and then on to Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan and Malaysia and eventually Australia. The money ran out somewhere around New Zealand or Fiji, and I came home having been bitten by the travel bug. Since then, I’ve visited South East Asia again, Jordan in the Middle East, Cuba, various Caribbean Islands, Tanzania and Zanzibar, as well as Chile and Argentina in South America a few times. (That’s where I learned my pretty awful Spanish.) Recently I’ve been to Peru, which I loved. There are some photos of my travels too if you’re interested.
I returned home from my travels and that’s when I started writing Everybody Jam. The first draft at least. It started life as a story told by a narrator, of a family on an Australian cattle station. It wasn’t until a few years later that I hit on the idea of writing it as Danny Dawson’s story.
Eight years after I started writing Everybody Jam, the story was published by Andersen Press. You can read more about that in the ‘Reviews’ section.
I was totally gob-smacked and thrilled when Everybody Jam was shortlisted for a number of awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Branford Boase Awards.
In January 2014 I won the IBBY Sweden Peter Pan Award for Everybody Jam (or 'Varldens Ande' as it is known there). A wonderful surprise!