PLACE AND DATE OF BIRTH:London, 16 September 1948
FAVOURITE BOOK:Watership Down by Richard Adams
MOST TREASURED POSSESSIONAll my old diaries
FAVOURITE SONG:Après Un Rêve by Fauré
FAVOURITE FILM:Annie Hall by Woody Allen
When did you start writing?As a child I loved writing stories and plays, and putting on shows. Later, when I was a penniless student, I went busking and starting writing songs. That led to a career in songwriting for children’s television. In 1993 one of my songs (A Squash and a Squeeze) was made into a book, and that’s how all the books started.
Where do you get your ideas?Memories, observations, things that happen to my children, things people say, traditional stories, proverbs … Once you’re open to ideas they can come from anywhere – it’s like being a photographer or artist with an eye always open for a good picture. For me, the hard part is the next step – developing the ideas.
Can you give your top three tips to becoming a successful author?1 Always be open to ideas, and jot them down, but give them time to grow inside you, like seeds. Don’t force them!2 Scribble furiously when you’re in the mood. Then take time later to criticise and change things.3 If you want to get published, don’t take NO for an answer. Nearly everyone gets rejection letters, so keep writing.
Favourite memory?Playing hide and seek in a huge old house full of statues and secret passageways.
Favourite place in the world and why?A footpath in the Cotswold hills – I love rolling countryside, trees, villages, and the ancient feeling of footpaths.
What are your hobbies?Playing the piano, singing, reading, walking, wild flowers and fungi.
If you hadn’t been a writer, what do you think you would have been?An actress. That’s what I always wanted to be – but in a way I am because I do a lot of author visits where I act out my own stories.