Welcome to my website!
I grew up in Sussex but now live in Southampton with my husband, three grown-up children and lots of geraniums. I began to write stories, poems, and plays when I was still at school. It still gives me as much joy as it did then.
When I grew up, I went to a writing class and met a group of people who have become good friends. We meet regularly to read our work to each other and eat chocolate biscuits. My first picture book was 'Tattybogle' - the story of a happy scarecrow. It has now been made into a musical for schools, by Ruth Kenward at Starshine Music!
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Here are some samples of the activities I can offer in schools: in general, I try to bring the books to life for the children by using pictures, songs, objects (as inspirations for stories) and anecdotes about how my stories came to be written and turned into books. I also want children to 'own' the stories by commenting on them and developing ideas of their own to share.
- Nursery: I tell the story of Tattybogle, with pictures, and then play some of the songs and invite the children to dance with the wind.
- Reception: I often work with The Moonthieves, beginning by asking the children what they might think the moon was if they didn't know, and then showing the pictures while telling the story. Children join in by taking charge of one of the characters while the story is being told. We also talk about Esther's (the illustrator) technique with the runny colours.
- KS1: I often use Rory McRory, and show the children the sketches so they can begin to see how stories become books. Bee, the illustrator, made a mistake and put the polar bear in the wrong place and we can spot where he was before she whited him out - and then see where else she put him.
- KS2: I introduce the idea that stories get recycled through the ages, and show how one of my stories, Nobody, Him and Me, has a root in Ulysses and another one in Sussex and a third in my own children. I also use The Mud Maid to show how walking round a garden inspired the story - and have pictures of the original statue and Karen's (the illustrator) artistic version of it.
- I also sometimes talk about the purpose of stories and how they can express a range of things from happiness to fear, and how sometimes things can be put right in stories - 'writing things right' - eg defeating a bully (the cat in Nobody, Him and Me). Sometimes, writing a story can involve playing with funny ideas - for example, the original Cinderella was a boy called Ashenpattle, and it is fun to think how that would change the story.
Writing stories and poems
I can also come with my story hats - lucky dips with the first lines of stories and characters, if the purpose is to encourage children to begin writing their own stories.
I also offer poetry workshops aimed at exploring how to create effects and moods with words and word-shapes, with examples.