I was thirteen when I first thought about writing a book. We were doing a story writing project at school and I found the words I wrote down wove together in a very pleasing way. A love of words – mostly other people’s – stayed with me and I went on to study English Literature at university. But it was becoming a primary school teacher and then a mum that put me in touch with children’s books. Being with young children, trying to see the world the way they saw it and watching their personalities bloom, and grow inspired me to start writing books for children. The result is my first book, Naughty Nina, about a little girl who is working out whether she is naughty or nice, which has just been published by Bloomsbury, £5.99. It has been beautifully illustrated by AnnaLaura Cantone.
I love the way everything in a picture book really matters. Every single word counts because there are so few of them – a bit like writing poetry. The sound and rhythm of the words matters because books are read aloud to young children. Then there are the pictures, which often tell more than half the story. The words and the pictures have to work together, sometimes expressing the same thing and sometimes showing something completely different. I also love the fact that picture books begin the journey of a whole life time of reading. At any age, books can help you find out about yourself and the rest of the world, discover possibilities, provide refuge and explore magical places.
I now have three children, and like all busy working mums (I currently work as a freelance writer on educational issues) I struggle to find time for everything. But my children continue to provide me with always endearing, sometimes infuriating and often amusing insights into their world, and I hope to carry on turning those ideas into books.