Where it begins

1980s carpets. Wheesh.

This is me. Always reading. My Mum says that before I could walk, I’d sit and carefully turn each page of the Radio Times (upside down, mind).

When my daughter came along, I read her my own favourite stories, like Each Peach Pear Plum, Where the Wild Things Are, and Meg and Mog. We discovered new favourites together, like Red Cat, Blue Cat, Oh No, George!, and The Princess Who Had No Kingdom. It felt like coming home.

I wanted to join in. I had some expert help to get me started. Like Alison Sage, who teaches writing for children at my local adult learning centre. She helped me to see the story, and let it out, as simply as possible. How to get unstuck, and keep going.

And the wonderful Trisha Krauss, who is as elegant as her illustrations, and who taught me the practical craft of illustrating a picture-book.

I’m having huge fun. I’ve got story ideas for tiny kids, pictures in my head that are huge fun to get onto paper. There’s a pirate girl chapter book for 6-8s taking shape. I’ve written a longer book for 9-12s, about Petrel, who discovers she can talk to spiders. Then, there are the ideas bubbling away for young adult novels. I’ve started work on the most insistent one first. The main character’s called Red, and she won’t leave me alone. 2016 is the year she’ll get out of my head.

I thought about making my first post all about my favourite books when I was growing up. But there were just too many. How could I mention them all?

That’s the most exciting thing about writing and illustrating for children. When you’re a child, and you find that story you love, it’s a friend that stays with you for life.

We all need more of those kinds of friends.


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