There were four fantastic things about doing this MA. First, it got me a distinction (always nice), second, I met my wonderful mentor and friend Julia Green through it, third, it got me teaching work at the University of Bath Spa after I finished, and finally, it made me write my first book. Back then, this book was called The Long Flight and it was about a boy called Adam and a strange, flightless whooper swan. Six years later, a gender change of the main character, and a genre change of the book, and this book became Flyaway, my second published novel with Chicken House. It’s now about a girl called Isla whose Dad gets sick, and so, with the help of new friend Harry, she tries to make him feel better again through teaching a swan to fly. My work as a nature guide with the RSPB really helped me to write this book, and I’ll always be grateful to this wonderful charity for giving me the chances to learn about all things wild.
My first published book, Stolen, was also influenced by my life and the things I did. Thankfully, I’ve never been kidnapped, but when I was nine years old and moving from Wales to Australia, it felt like a bit of a kidnapping. Suddenly I was in a new country I didn’t understand; a place that was simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. I’ve always been fascinated by wild Australian land and, when younger, my favourite memories are of camping in the bush and exploring the overgrown creek at the back of our first Melbourne house. But this landscape scared me too, and I didn’t feel like I fitted in. I used these feelings of being simultaneously entranced and repulsed by something in order to write Gemma’s feelings for both Ty and the landscape he takes her to.
I’m now working on another teen novel for Chicken House.
In between writing, and talking about writing, and teaching writing, I do lots of other things! I have recently completed a Creative Writing PhD, which focuses on how a relationship with Australian land has been creatively enriching. I also spend a lot of time riding a grumpy chestnut mare called Topaz, and having adventures around the world. My favourite country to visit is South Africa, and I have volunteered there as a writing mentor and as a field guide. One thing I’ve never done but always wanted to is go in a hot air balloon. Oh, and camels make me smile.
I am represented in the UK by Greene And Heaton Literary Agency, and published by Chicken House. In the United States and Australia, I am published by Scholastic. For a full list of where my books have been published and by who, please visit the Chicken House website on www.doublecluck.com