Why do you write?
I write, first and foremost, because I love writing. I have always enjoyed writing, story-telling and inspiring children to write as part of my job as a headteacher. I fell into writing children’s books by accident though. A parent at a school I worked in approached me to tell me their child had been picked on for having two mums. As a child I was bullied quite severely so I feel it is my mission to give children a voice to say “no, this is not acceptable.” I scoured the internet for a tale to share with children about having two mums and at the time, there was very little out there. I decided to write “The Best Mummy Snails in the Whole Wide World” as a story to share with the children in assembly (something I have done several times before). A teacher who heard it said that she thought I ought to publish it. And there the story began…
Is writing your first love or do you have another passion?
Writing, teaching, singing – they’re my passions. I guess I like being creative and I like being sociable. I’m now focussed on fighting for social justice; supporting those who may be more vulnerable by giving them a voice.
What was the first book that made you cry?
I think I am quite an emotional person. Many books have made me cry for one reason or another. Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian and War Horse by Michael Morpurgo spring to mind as two examples. But I think the first book that ever made an impact on me was Dodie Smith’s 101 Dalmatians. I made my dad read that to me countless times before bed, I was utterly besotted by it.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The hardest thing about being a writer is finding the time to juggle things around my “day job.” I would love to have a bit more flexibility to be able to take off and share my book in a different school. Finding a publishing house that would be willing to take on books like mine is also a tricky one because the market is flooded with picture books. I believe in my stories and know I am doing the right thing by getting them out there though.
Name a fictional character you consider a friend.
There are so many fictional characters that I have respect for, I’m not sure I would consider one a friend though.
Did getting published change your perception of writing?
Working on my books most certainly changed my perception of writing. I was a little naïve in that I thought I could just send a manuscript off to a publisher and they would say, yes or no. It has been a steep learning curve. I have self-published my books which on the one hand has allowed me to retain creative control, yet on the other has come with a range of other challenges. It is really hard work. What you expect to take a short while takes far longer. I am very thankful for the wise words of support I have had from an array of different people in the know though.
Who inspires you and why?
My parents inspired me. I sadly lost them quite a long time ago but they always encouraged me to reach for my dreams. I hope they are looking down at me and feel proud of what I have done so far.
Which book deserves more readers?
Would I be wrong in saying my own? I think any book that has a decent moral behind it deserves more readers. One of my favourites at the moment that I have shared with children is Respect by Michaela Morgan. It is the true tale of Walter Tull, the first black professional footballer and army officer in the UK. If anything is an inspirational read, this is!
Do you have any friends that are writers? If so, do you show each other early drafts?
I have met a number of different writers on my journey to becoming an author myself though sadly not well enough to share early drafts with.
Who or what are you most excited to see at Newark Book Festival in July?
I am looking forward to leading the creative workshops in the Newark Book Festival this year and having attended for the first time last year, I am looking forward to being able to explore the ambience and atmosphere across the whole town.