This is all about me as a child and other things that I have done.

Here I am aged about five and wearing my favourite dress.

I was born and brought up in Scotland. My father worked as a zoologist so we always had a supply of pet mice and when one mouse died we would get an identical replacement the very next day. I have two sisters and a brother. One sister was terrifyingly clever at origami and had an amazing singing voice. The other sister was much older and a very keen communist. On Saturday mornings she used to stand on a box in Edinburgh city centre and lecture the public. My brother was a mathematical genius with wild curly hair. He Knew Everything. And then there was me. I was just ordinary. Except I did have special hair. Because I was the youngest my mother could never face cutting off my baby curls. So I ended up with two very long, tight, brown pigtails that were blond at the tips and rather ratty. The pigtails were thin as whips and I learnt to flick them to great effect--every girl needs a form of self-defence.

A bit older here-- the writing bug had begun.

When I left school I studied English at London University. Then I went traveling and I spent the next few years living abroad, in Italy and in Egypt. I came back eventually and settled in London where I worked as a journalist, writing features and interviews. I was a terribly slow writer--every word took me hour--but I gained a cruel satisfaction from it. But I always knew I wanted to create my own world rather than report on the real one. So, after my kids were born and I had a job as a columnist, I wrote my first children's book. It was all about a family of flying lizardlike people that lived in a cooling tower in Didcot. It was very long and very plotless. Nobody wanted it. I wrote it a second time--slightly less long, slightly more plot. Then a third time--still no good. That's how I started.

Now I live part of the time in North Somerset, where I teach students how to write, and part of the time in Perthshire, where my brother has bought back the old family home. On writing days I draw the curtains in the room I am working in and slog away. Every so often I emerge blinking from the gloom and make for the woods.