Monday, June 6, 2011     17:19

A Little About Me

I was born and brought up in Glasgow, in Scotland, but moved north to the small town of Nairn about 35 years ago - oh, boy, that makes me feel old!  And I’m only 267...           

   How did I start writing?  In 1985 I had a nervous breakdown.  While I was recovering, my mother (who taught me to read when I was 3) urged me to enter a book-writing competition run by Canongate, who produced the ‘Kelpie’ books.  The winner’s book would be published.    ‘Oh, mum, I’ve only ever written pantomimes.  I can’t write a book!’  ‘ Oh, yes you can!’  ‘Oh, no I can’t!’  ‘Oh, yes you can!’  So she bullied me into trying it.  I thought ‘Quest for a Kelpie’, the name of the competition, was the title the book had to have, so that’s what I called my entry.  As an English teacher for over 20 years I’d learned the bits of books that my pupils skipped reading, and I tried not to write like that.  And my book won!   Thanks, mum.

I’ve written 16 books, mostly for young adults although there are a couple for younger readers.  As an English teacher for over 20 years, I learned the bits of the books that my pupils skipped, and I try not to write like that.  My very first fan letter was from a boy of 8, who told me, “I wasn’t very happy when my teacher told me I had to read your book ‘Quest for a Kelpie’ for my library project, but now I think it’s the best book I’ve ever read.”  He didn’t say, though, how much competition it had.  The second was from a man of 94 in Nebraska, who invited me to drop in if I was ever in the area. Mind you, that was 20 years ago; I doubt if the invitation is still open.

My historical books have a foundation of true history, as accurate as I can discover, with imaginary people slotted in among the real historical ones.   Since history - at least, until men started wearing trousers - has always fascinated me,
many of my books are set in the past, which means I enjoy all the hours of research for them.

    I don’t spend 16 hours a day at the PC any more – I’ve learned a bit of sense since the first book – but I try to get to my desk by 9.  I’m lazy, though, and easily distracted; I have too many daft computer games, I love my small garden, and  I’m often asked to go and talk to schools, or do my ‘Phemie’s 45’ show about the ‘45 Rebellion.

    I enjoy travelling, whenever my purse allows it.; but it’s always good to come home.  Nowhere can beat Scotland.  Though I have to admit the Corrieshalloch Gorge is just a wee bit smaller than the Grand Canyon.

    I also have to admit a terrible, wonderful thing; I’m a bookoholic. I usually have at least five books on the go, one each in the bedroom, bathroom, living-room, kitchen and office. 

    Books are magic!


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