My mother is a writer. When I was growing up I remember her spending hours of every day at her typewriter, then her word processor, and eventually her computer as the years went by. It was a mystery to me why she spent so much time there. It didn’t seem like a very exciting occupation, sat in front of a computer all day. I remember coming home from school and going into her study to talk to her. Sometimes I had the feeling she was not quite there – that part of her was still away in whatever world she had been creating. I was far more interested in living in the real world.
I grew up and left home; I studied geology at university, I worked as a laboratory technician, then an exploration geologist, and after a few years I completed a PGCE and became a science teacher. My first encounter with writing was via teaching. I saw an advertisement that CGP (an educational publisher) were looking for science teachers to contribute to their revision guides, and I thought it would be a good way to earn some extra money.
I soon found out that writing was hard work. I spent hours at the computer; researching, writing and editing, trying to get the words just right, but I did enjoy it. I found pleasure and pride in producing a succinct paragraph that neatly explained a scientific concept. I knew how difficult it was for many of my pupils to grasp certain ideas, and I really wanted to help make science accessible and enjoyable.
The thought of writing fiction did not occur to me for several years. Inspiration came after I moved to Borrowdale, in the Lake District, with my family. I was thirty something, and was taking a break from teaching to be with my two children. We spent as much time as we could outside, walking and exploring the beautiful valley we are lucky enough to live in.
Everything started to give me ideas for stories; the mountains, the lakes, the wildlife, the local history and legends, and my children. Anyone with children knows how eager they are to hear stories, and how stories fire their imagination. Spending time with my children in such a beautiful setting is when my writing journey really began.
I wrote the first draft of Indigo’s Dragon in a notebook, by the side of the river, while my children played in the water. It was inspired by all the things my children and I liked most at the time; our valley, the fells, dragons, monsters, adventures, mysteries, journeys, and fairy tales. I loved the writing process, with all its ups and downs, and found myself spending hours of every day lost in the world I was creating. When I finished the story, I sent it away to a few publishers and started writing another, completely different, book. I had discovered the appeal of living part of my life in a fantasy world of my own creation – something my mother had discovered years before, and I finally understood.
While I was lost in writing my second book, Accent Press got in touch and offered me a contract for Indigo’s Dragon. I was over the moon, and couldn’t believe my luck. Not only did Accent Press want to publish Indigo’s Dragon, but they were interested in sequels too!
I finished the book I was working on and began a sequel for Indigo’s Dragon. I already had some ideas for it; Indigo’s Demons became a continuation of Indigo’s story, this time set in the Tatra Mountains in Poland. I have never been to Poland, but always wanted to as my maternal grandmother was Prussian. I think setting the book there was my way of visiting the country. Many of the mythical creatures brought to life inIndigo’s Demons are inspired by Polish and Slavic myths, which I have always enjoyed reading.
Accent Press contracted Indigo’s Demons, and expressed their interest in even more Indigo books so I got to work on a third! Indigo’s Deep was wonderful to write. It is set on and under the sea (the Irish Sea and the Baltic Sea) and involves more than a few sea monsters. It was inspired by a local aquarium I visit with my children (The Lake District Coast Aquarium), sightings and stories of sea monsters, my experiences scuba diving, and a Lithuanian legend.
The more I write, the more I realise that inspiration comes from everywhere; it is all around, in your past, your present, your surroundings, the people you meet, and the stories you read. Once I started writing I found ideas created more ideas, and now I have a whole list of books I want to write. My mother has around forty books published, and is still writing, so I have some catching up to do!
Indigo’s Dragon is a fantasy novel, for ages 9-99, published by Accent Press.
Indigo’s Demons will be published December 2016, and Indigo’s Deep June 2017.