I was born in Northumberland, which is possibly the one part of England where more animals live than people, and spent my early years crawling around on the floor of the popular children’s bookshop that my mother ran.
The first book I can remember reading is Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. “Stop thief!”
I was a total bookworm and read everything I could lay my hands on, from Beatrix Potter to Babar, Moomintrolls to Hobbits. Some of my favourite books included Stig Of The Dump, The Land of Green Ginger and The Silver Sword.
I also loved comic books, especially all of Tintin and Asterix. So I tried to write one.
When I was 8, I won a cartoon competition in the local paper with my entry “Super Sid”, a comic strip about a superhero called Sid. Unfortunately his main super power was being called Sid, and so he didn’t last long.
My first proper story was written age 13, which starts – ‘Sam was a dog. And like most dogs, he was a detective.’
This should have led to a promising career in canine detective fiction but at school and university I became completely distracted by theatre & comedy, which is where I then started my working life - at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, producing plays and sketch shows, and occasionally writing them too.
I am very proud to still be a Trustee of the Pleasance Theatre, which gave me my first ever job, and every year gives hundreds of new writers, performers, producers and technicians their first break.
After that, I accidentally came up with a successful gameshow called Come and Have A Go If You Think You’re Smart Enough and moved into television. I still work in TV, developing programme ideas and occasionally being allowed to make them – including Argumental and DSF: Olivia Lee (Series 1 &2).
But deep down the thing I most wanted to do was write stories like the ones I grew up on, and after my Dad wrote his first book at the age of 60 - Salmon Fishing In The Yemen -I felt inspired. So I went on a marvellous Arvon Course at Ted Hughes’ old house in West Yorkshire. They were very encouraging – and I began to write a book.
That book eventually became The Last Wild, and I am currently writing the next installment in the story.
In between, I have just been trained as a Volunteer Reader by the brilliant Beanstalk and am very privileged to be working with them in North London help young readers enjoy books the way I once did.