I was brought up in London and that’s where my working life began – in television production. Family led me to Cambridge, a place I had visited occasionally but only really knew from novels. I quickly grew to love its Gothic architecture, big green open spaces and eclectic mix of residents.
While bringing up two children in this ancient city, I worked part-time for the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, a wondrous place of creative endeavour, where letters are lovingly carved into stone by hand. The Workshop also has a small publishing arm and it was here that my desire to create a children’s book first took shape.
The Hidden Tales came about as an idea because I wanted to find a way of engaging my own children with their local environment, away from screens. It then dawned on me that if my children were motivated to get out and about, solving problems and working as a team, perhaps it could work for others.
When I left school, I was lucky enough to be offered a place at Cambridge University to read law and spent three wonderful years at St John’s College being taught by learned professors in wood panelled rooms, spending hours in the library poring over leather-bound tomes, and escaping out onto the playing fields now and again to hit a hockey ball around. In those days, Cambridge morning lectures took place in the centre of town just off Mill Lane and afterwards I would walk back to college along Kings Parade surrounded by shoals of scarf-wearing students, our minds filled with the wisdom of the ancients. But while I found those around me talking about the subtler points of Tort or Constitutional Law, my thoughts were drawn instead to the gargoyles jutting out from chapel towers above us or the pale-faced statues of venerable academics peering out from the nooks of ancient buildings. As I passed underneath their lofty perches, I wondered if behind their stony stares mysterious entities were hidden, observing us mortal beings wandering past.
The big bookshop in Cambridge is Heffers in Trinity Street, but back then its children’s department was located in a tiny little shop opposite. So, while my friends would often head for the main Heffers with their academic reading lists in hand, I would wander to the other side of the street and, when no one was looking, sneak inside its younger namesake to purchase the works of JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and other children’s authors.
Perhaps I should have realised then that my heart was not really in the law, but the thought of becoming a full-time writer seemed so unattainable and far-fetched, that I never gave it much thought until many years later when my own children had grown up and left home. It was then that I finally decided to submit a short story to a publisher of fantasy fiction which was running a competition to attract debut writers. To my astonishment, a response arrived some weeks later that they liked my story so much they had decided to publish it. Another commission followed and before I realised what had happened, some 30 years after my first furtive forays into Heffers Children’s Bookshop, I found I had become a writer after all.
I trained in graphic art in advertising, and commercial illustration after doing a fine art degree, and have had a varied career in art; writing/illustrating books, including cartoon books, and offering original interior design and decoration, painting almost anything to commission. I now specialise in painting murals and trompe l'oeil, but have a passion for equestrian art, and have written 3 books on drawing horses. You can see more of my work here...