I was born in a tiny village in Yorkshire. My father was a farmer and my mother had been a teacher. I’m very proud of my birthday because I was born at seven o’clock on the eve of the summer solstice - June 20th. That makes me a Gemini - just!
We moved from that village when I was just 18 months old and went to live with my grandparents in Bridlington, which is a seaside town in Yorkshire. When I was 3 my parents bought a house on the outskirts of York and my dad’s parents bought a smallholding, which is a small farm, at the end of the lane and my other grandparents bought a bungalow round the corner.
Soon, all my aunties and uncles and cousins were also living near us and, for a while, my entire extended family lived within half a mile of each other. We had the most amazing bonfire parties on the field at the back of my grandparents’ smallholding.
During the five years we lived there, both my grandfathers died. I remember them clearly. In the case of Granddad Hill, I drew on his death when I wrote the first chapter of Blaggers.
Granny Hill shouted at him, `I wish you’d drop dead!’ And he did! Granny Hill was so distraught that she said, I should be struck dumb for saying such a wicked thing.’ Several years later she had a stroke that robbed her of her speech. They always say you should be careful what you wish for!
Swimming Takes Over
After that Granny Hill came to live with us and we moved again, this time to a bigger house at the other side of York. At this time my brother, Martin, and I joined York City Baths Club.
Within a few years I was the Yorkshire U12 Breaststroke Champion and swimming completely took over my life. I trained three times a day in the pool as well as running, circuit training and weight training.
It paid off though because when I was 14 I was the English National Age Group Champion and when I was 16 I represented Great Britain in a junior international swimming match.
When I was 16 we moved out of York to a little village. I spent the most wonderful two years there before going off to college. There were so few kids in the village that everyone mucked in together.
We all used to pile into an old Ford Consul owned by a boy from the next village and we’d bomb around the narrow lanes going to youth clubs, fairs and dances in neighbouring villages.
We’d also cycle a lot and I have wonderful memories of riding along the lanes, with yellow fields at either side. There was an innocence about village life in 1970s – local cricket matches, swimming in the beck, picking blackberries from the hedgerow and playing hide and seek in haylofts – and it was safe to walk the streets until all hours.
I went to college and trained to be a PE teacher - mainly because I’d been good at swimming.
I didn’t really enjoy it though, in fact, I think I was probably the worst PE teacher in the history of the world.
I’d got married straight after leaving college and when my first daughter was born I started writing children’s stories, thinking that was going to be my new career.
Wrong! It took me 23 years and more rejections than I can count before that happened.
In the meantime I had two more children and went back to work as a teacher, this time in Special Needs.
When I discovered that my son and daughter were dyslexic I trained as a specialist teacher - and discovered that I’m dyslexic too!
I wondered why one of my teachers at school had thrown a book at me because my spelling was so bad!
My children are all grown up now and, although I got divorced from their dad, I’ve now re-married.
I gave up teaching in 2000 and now split my time between writing and visiting schools. I live in east London with my husband.