I GREW UP IN A TREE IN AFRICA.
We did live in a house, but I preferred hanging upside down from a branch. I thought the world looked better that way. I tried reading upside down but found it a bit difficult as the book would fall when I turned the page.
I arrived in the world by South African stork. A few years later my family and I moved to Northern Rhodesia, now named Zambia – very hot – and then to Southern Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe – also hot.
Fun Fact #1 – My favourite subject at school was English.
I wanted to be a writer and a teacher and practised on my brothers and sister, with lessons on the veranda and ghost stories at night. When I had my own children, three loud boys, the stories weren’t scary because I didn’t want them to have nightmares.
Fun Fact #2 – Africa to England.
I now live a hop and a skip from London with my husband, and have the best job – writing for children and meeting my readers. I’ve travelled from big, wide, wild Africa to safe, domestic Britain, but roam the wilds of my mind through my stories!
Fun Fact #3 – Favourite Books.
At the top, Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein. I love Harry Potter and other books with animals, dragons, magic, witches and wizards. Truth be told, I’m a bookaholic and read many different genres.
Fun Fact #4 – Fun at work.
I once worked for a boss who had a photograph on the wall of an elephant peeing. It made me laugh.
Fun Fact #5 – Favourite Animal
I have a brown Burmese cat with yellow-green eyes called Skye. She thinks walking across my keyboard when I’m writing is helpful, but her spelling is dreadful. (Please don’t tell her I said so.)
Fun Fact #6 – Deadly visitor.
It was fun growing up in Africa but there were some scary moments. When I was 9 and my brother 11, we were on top of a wooden fence covered by a creeper. My brother suddenly told me to keep still. He’d spotted a green mamba – a highly venomous snake – in the creeper. We watched it slither ever so slowly over his feet. Luckily it didn’t seem to be worried about us and disappeared among the leaves. We cleared off after that and didn’t climb there again in case it came back.
Fun Fact #7 – All-time best fun.
We once stopped overnight with our caravan near a river on a long journey to the sea. The hippos were very noisy that night and cheeky baboons climbed on top of the Landrover and caravan. In the morning we discovered they had pooed all over them! Our father had to clean most of it off as he was the tallest.
Fun Fact #8 – Yuckiest moment.
We arrived one hot, dark night at a motel in a remote area.My brothers, sister and I jumped straight into the swimming pool. Dead frogs floated on the surface but we only spotted them once we stopped splashing around. There were gazillions of them! We leaped out and re-counted. Nope, just 6. All dead.
We sometimes found gigantic African Bullfrogs in our driveway. Not yucky, just huge, warty and really loud.
Fun Fact #9 – Funniest animal.
At the motel were two friendly giraffes. One , which we named Shorty, stuck its head into our caravan and ate peppermints. It seemed to really like them and kept coming back for more, breathing it’s minty breath on us.
Fun Fact #10 – All-time best pets.
I once rescued an injured chameleon – it lived on my bedroom window mosquito screen and ate flies. I had two wriggly white mice which climbed onto my shoulders or into my pocket where I fed them treats. We had a black dog called Rainbow, a long-haired brown and white collie called Lassie and cats in all colours.
Fun Fact #11 – Awesome Trees.
Gigantic – I’ve always loved trees but the strangest of all are the gigantic Baobabs. They tower above other trees, and in the dry season when they lose their leaves they look as if they’ve been planted upside-down by aliens! Travelling in the dry Zambezi valley was fun as there were plenty of Baobabs to spot.
Colourful – Yellow flowering Acacias, purple-blue Jacarandas and red Flamboyants with their strap-like wooden seed pods all paint the view with their vibrant colours.
Mysterious – Mangrove trees are terrestrial, which means they grow on land, but they live beside the sea and take up sea water. Crabs, jellyfish, fish and baby sharks shelter in their long prop roots.
Fun Fact #I2 – I was once a child.
Here I am at 6 and 9 years.
I’m a member of the following organisations for writers: