I am the author of several historical fantasies for children and young adults. My titles include the Viking trilogy ‘Troll Fell’, ‘Troll Mill’ and ‘Troll Blood’, and ‘Dark Angels’ (US title ‘The Shadow Hunt’) – a tale of ghosts, elves and hobgoblins set in the Welsh Marches at the end of the 12th century.
With my other hat on, I have contributed essays and reviews to various academic publications, including a paper on the children’s books of Mervyn Peake for ‘Miracle Enough’, 2012, and an essay on Alan Garner for Erica Wagner’s 2016 celebratory anthology, ‘First Light’. Most recently I have published ‘Seven Miles of Steel Thistles’, 2016, a book of essays on fairy tales and folklore based on the blog of the same name which I created back in 2009.
I grew up in the Yorkshire Dales reading anything I could lay my hands on, especially fairy tales, fantasy and folklore. My favourite writers were C.S. Lewis, Alan Garner, Rosemary Sutcliff and Lucy Boston, and aged ten, desperate to read more about Narnia, I wrote my own ‘Stories of Narnia’ in an old blue notebook. (Yes, it still exists.)
Following a first degree in English I went on to study medieval literature at University College and Kings College, London – after which I worked several years in the Information Office for Lloyd’s Register, dealing with all kinds of ship-related enquiries from marine fraud to family history, and enjoying encounters with many delightfully eccentric members of the great British public, including the Man With The Magic Eye. (If you meet me, feel free to ask.)
After moving with my family to France and then America, I became interested in oral storytelling and for a few years was involved in telling stories to children in schools and libraries. This taught me a great deal – about narrative pace, and about the kinds of stories which appeal to children. On returning to England I sold my first successful children’s book ‘Troll Fell’ to Harper Collins, which was published worldwide and translated into many languages.
Luckily, writing’s not all about sitting at home in front of a computer. Research for my various projects can be very exciting. I’ve fed wolves in the snow, crawled down an Iron Age mine, zoomed about London River in an inflatable boat, clambered over old castles and even spent a week in Denmark learning how to sail a reconstructed Viking Age ship on Roskilde Fjord. I currently live in Oxfordshire with my husband, and whenever I look up from writing, Polly, our energetic Dalmatian, insists we go out for a walk.