As a child growing up in Essex I loved drawing and colouring patterns, with dreams of being an artist. I made up stories about dragons and foxes for my younger sister, but I didn’t write them down. Art and writing were not apparent job choices for me when I left school at fifteen, and I was directed towards business studies and a future life of office work.
My artistic dream was achieved in my late twentys after I studied for a BSc in Textile Design at UMIST, Manchester, as a mature student. I became a textile designer, working for Courtaulds Home Textiles for seven years, before going freelance.
By then I was living in West Yorkshire where I later taught various crafts in adult education, and became an active participant in the big annual Holmfirth artweek exhibition.
During that time I became a mum. I made up tales of flying cows and horses that changed colour for my son - inspired by and told during walks in the countryside with our shaggy bearded collie, Tess. They were also unwritten, but as more ideas crowded my imagination I began writing short stories for women’s magazines. None were published (they weren’t good enough!), but it was good practice for developing the craft of writing.
My story ideas became increasingly suitable for children, so in 2006 I bought my first copy of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. I started submitting my work to agents and publishers and entered competitions including the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition in 2007.
Positive feedback from two agents encouraged me to keep writing. In January 2010 a fascination with the ancient Clovis people developed, as I imagined their lives with sabretooth cats (they’re not tigers!) and mammoths 13,000 years ago. After much research and lots of rewriting, in October 2012 I submitted Like A Brother to the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2013. I won and my book, renamed Brave, was published April 2014.
Having returned to my Essex roots in 2010 after 34 years in West Yorkshire I consider myself half Essex / half Yorkshire; a good combination! Daily walks with Lola my shaggy labradoodle – along the beach and in the countryside – intensified my interest in and concern for the natural world, especially the impact of plastic pollution in our oceans and on land.
I started picking up plastic litter during my beach walks in March 2015, have been taking part in organized local beach cleans since March 2017, and organized one myself April 2018.
Unlike most people, I’ve brought home much of the litter, washed it, and used it for inspiration, for both my art and my writing. In October 2016 I became a mature student again – studying for an MA in Wild Writing: Literature and the Environment at the University of Essex. The topic of my dissertation is beach walks and plastic pollution (deadline early September 2018), and it’s also the theme of a children’s book I’m working on.
I’m planning on developing the dissertation into a book, and hoping either that or the children’s book will be published.
After all …
There are more ideas and works-in-progress, including some art projects
And always more beach plastic litter to pick up