What is your next book?
I am writing the 10th Sprite Sister title, The Power of Four, and also thinking up ideas for the three Sprite prequel stories Fischer Verlag has contracted me to write.
How many Sprite Sister books will there be?
Ten titles will complete the main series, then there will be another three stories in the prequel series. So, thirteen altogether – a ‘baker’s dozen’!
Where do you get your ideas?
I like watching people and am very observant. It’s the small things that intrigue me, the details. I think a lot about human relationships and I have a good ear for conversations and dialogue. I have a big family, so there is always material to draw from.
I get ideas all the time – things flash in to my mind. It might be the idea for a whole new story or a small detail for one of the characters.
Ideas come when I am quiet. I do a lot of thinking when I am walking in the countryside or sitting by myself. I keep a notebook handy at all times. It’s really important to write ideas down. You think you will remember them, but it’s easy to forget things.
If I am trying to work out a bit of plot, I walk along talking in to a digital voice recorder. That way, I can let my mind roam freely, without having to worry about stopping to write things down. I copy the bits I need into my notebook later.
Where did you get the idea for the Sprite Sister stories?
The idea popped into my mind as I was sitting in bed writing my diary, at 1.30am on 22nd January 2007. I wrote down one sentence, ‘Four girls with magic powers – east, south, north and west’. From that, the idea grew very quickly. I realised I could base the stories, in part, on my own childhood as one of four sisters growing up in a big country house.
Which Sprite Sister are you most like?
Each of the Sprite Sisters is, in part, some aspect of me. I have Flame’s passion and quick, fiery nature. I am empathetic and lively, like Marina. I love being outside and thinking deeply about things, like Ash. And I was naughty as a little girl, just like Ariel!
Do you believe in magic?
Where did you grow up?
I lived with my parents and sisters in Drayton, a village about five miles from Norwich, Norfolk, on the east side of England. When I was a child the village was small and our house was right on the edge of open country. Now the area is built up, but the countryside is still close by.
My family lived at Littlewood House – a beautiful house with twenty acres of grounds – and from which I have drawn much inspiration for the Sprite Sisters books. See some of the photos
I love Norfolk and have lived here most of my life. It is a big, rural county with a lot of wide spaces and forests. I also enjoy that fact that we are close to the sea.
Where do you live now?
In Norwich, Norfolk.
Norwich is a walled, medieval city, rich in history. In the 11th century, it was the largest city in England after London.
There is some wonderful architecture here, including the Norwich Cathedral and Norwich Castle. Founded in 1096, the cathedral is the most complete Norman cathedral in Europe and also boasts 1000 bosses. Norwich has more medieval churches than any city north of the Alps, and the longest complete city walls.
I like the fact that Norwich has a human scale and that you can walk across it in half an hour.
In 2012, Norwich was named as a UNESCO City of Literature – England’s first. We have Writers’ Centre Norwich, here, and a university – UEA – famed for its creative writing courses.
Do you have children?
I have a son, a daughter, a daughter in law and a little granddaughter.
What were your favourite books as a child?
I loved Alan Garner’s ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’, which is about magic and has a wonderful atmosphere and sense of place. I also loved stories about ponies. Monica Edward’s ‘The White Riders’ was a particular favourite. Ursula le Guin’s ‘Wizard of Earthsea’ trilogy became favourite books when I was a little older.
What did you like doing most as a child?
If I was inside the house, reading and watching old films.
Most of the time, I was outside with the animals. We were very lucky to have a big garden and had ponies, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and a pig. At one point, we had 63 guinea pigs!
I also spent a lot of time observing the natural world around me – wild animals, birds, plants, trees and fungi. In my teens, I was a keen photographer.
Words of advice to would-be writers
- Take note of your dreams and daydreams and write them down. I find new characters and ideas pop up when I am walking, cooking or just pottering about. I also get a lot of ideas as I wake up. I keep a notebook beside my bed.
- Give time and space to think quietly. Ideas need reflection.
- Trust your instinct, however odd your idea may seem. If it feels good, it probably is good.
- Have a story running in your head as you watch people, ‘I wonder what would happen if …’
- Write because you enjoy it.
- Play to your strengths: write about what you know.
- A good story starts at a point of change.
- Writing is a craft: it needs to be learned.
Want to ask me a question?
If this page hasn’t answered your question you can contact me and I will reply as soon as I can.