She spent much of her childhood running wild, building rafts and making dens in forbidden iron ore quarries, which they called 'The Valleys.' She began to go deaf at the age of five.
She has had lots of jobs, paper girl, market trader, petrol pump attender, soda syphon promoter, nanny, waitress, barmaid, clerical assistant, playpark leader. She never expected to be a writer. Much to her surprise, she passed some exams and went to University - Goldsmith's College, London.
She got a degree and trained to be a teacher. She was told she was too deaf to teach the deaf, so she taught Shakespeare to the hearing for 20 years instead.
She won the best actress award at the London University Student Drama Festival. She played a charlady.
She wanted to be an artist but chose literature instead. Even so, her first job included running an Art department. Then she married a lawyer who wanted to be an artist. He illustrated her first book: JUGG
She has published over 80 books, and written a whole lot more.
She loves working with illustrators and is hugely grateful to Russell Ayto, Jill Barton, Ivan Bates, Patrick Benson, Gary Blythe, Lynn Breeze, Polly Dunbar, Debi Gliori, Brita Granstrom, Tim Hopgood, Lara Jones, Jimmy Liao, P.J. Lynch, James Mayhew, Carol Thompson, Susan Varley. She likes the strange dance they do together, though they seldom meet.
She has two new books in the pipeline, TIBBS , THE POST OFFICE CAT, to be illustrated by Claire Fletcher (Quarto Books) and IS IT REALLY NEARLY CHRISTMAS? to be illustrated by Victoria Turnbull (Hatchette).
Many of her stories have been performed. SHOE BABY has been the Christmas Show twice at the Komedia in Brighton, performed by LONGNOSE PUPPETS, the company formed by her daughter Polly and friend. PAT-A CAKE BABY will be staged at the KOMEDIA in Brighton for Christmas 2016. MOUSE & MOLE was a stage production with TIEBREAK THEATRE, and has been made into an animation series.MOONBIRD has been performed in Singapore, France, and Thailand. ODDLY , performed by NORWICH PUPPET THEATRE is currently on tour.
She was invited to give a keynote speech to the Asian Children's Writers and Illustrators Conference while in Singapore in 2008 and to run masterclasses and workshops.
She has been creative writing tutor for the Arvon Foundation in UK and over 10 years tutored a writing course on the Greek Island of Skyros.
In 1998 she cycled across Cuba for the National Deaf Children's Society. In 1999 she travelled across India to the Himalayas with a guru.
From 2006-2009 she was a Royal Literary Fund writing fellow at U.E.A. She embarked on a book for adults which is still a work in progress. She is a specialist speaker for the MACE course in Creative Entrepreneurship at the University of East Anglia.
She loves the City where she lives - Norwich, in Norfolk. She also loves Brighton where she got married.
She loves animals, gardening, art, theatre, cinema, reading, walking, cycling, gazing out of the window and Leonard Cohen. In another life she would like to be a dancer or an explorer/naturalist - but she thinks she has the best job in the world.
Her eyes are green. Her favourite colour is green. Her cat is called Minnie Ha-ha. Her son Ben is a photographer.