Some things you might be interested to know

 

First of all...

I was born in Cardiff and by choice that's where I've lived most of my life. I love walking the open spaces - the Taff Trail and Bute Park, and Caerphilly Mountain with its majestic views over the Valleys is just a stone's throw away.  I thought my knowledge about my home city was pretty comprehensive until I started researching for my Hometown History book. I couldn't believe how many fascinating facts I discovered about the past! 

North London was my home for three years in the early 70s, when I studied history at one of the old polytechnics. After graduating in 1975 I married my high school sweetheart and we bought a house in Pontypridd in the South Wales Valleys. Our little semi sat at the top of a very steep hill with fantastic views over the town and beyond. Every time it snowed we had to abandon our Ford Cortina at the bottom and trudge up the hill on foot! I loved Ponty so much I set my first novel for teens, 'Keeping Secrets,' there.

I spent the 1980s having my five children who later supplied me with heaps of ideas and jargon to include in my stories, especially when they were teenagers. They used to dread Mum eavesdropping on their conversations!  

When I started writing

My parents insist I always had a notebook and pencil in my hand and my early stories were inspired by the authors I loved best - Enid Blyton's Mallory Towers, Elinor M.Brent-Dyer's Chalet School series and the 'Jill' books by Ruby Ferguson. I never owned or rode a horse properly (or even liked them much!) but the idea of grooming, mucking out in stables and competing in gymkhanas seemed magical to me and so with my very limited knowledge of such things I wrote several 'horsey' stories.

I suppose I wrote boarding school stories for the same reasons - the fantasy life they allowed me to enter, with the promise of tuck boxes and midnight feasts. I gave my characters exotic names like Blanche, Melody and Cameron and when they went home for the holidays it wasn't to a semi on an estate in North Cardiff but a manor house in a remote part of Scotland (where there was always ice skating on a frozen lake) and countless cousins (usually twins or triplets) to entertain and quarrel with.

These days I prefer writing about teenagers and the gritty, real-life situations they find themselves involved in whether they like it or not.

Of course you can't love writing without being a reader too. Authors like Anne Cassidy and Julia Green are among my favourites for teens and young adults and Jennifer Donnelly's 'A Gathering Light' is a moving and powerful coming of age story that I would warmly recommend. 'Chains' and its sequel, 'Forge' by Laurie Halse Anderson, are both fine novels charting the progress towards freedom of a young black slave caught up in the American Revolutionary War. You can read my reviews for the Awfully Big Reviews website here -  http://tinyurl.com/hjz4l3p and http://tinyurl.com/zdtevs6

Why I write

I have always had ideas for stories; I've just not been very good at getting them down on paper!

After my childhood efforts, I wrote some poetry in my teens, most of it inspired by teenage angst over boys I fell in love with. My twenties and thirties were a fallow time - I was too busy juggling nappy changing with part-time teaching jobs to do very much with my ideas, but when I hit forty I got the writing bug, did a creative writing correspondence course and since then I haven't been able to stop!