The Inspiration Behind My Writing
One of my earliest memories is of requesting my own bedroom. My family and I had just moved down from Liverpool and a brief spell in Swanscombe, we ended up in Chatham, Kent. We moved into a three bedroom house and as the oldest child of three, I felt that I deserved the little bedroom at the top of the stairs.
I didn’t want it because I wanted to keep my brothers out, not as such anyway; I wanted it because I wanted space for my books. I wanted a bookshelf which had all of my favourite reads on it. I was a real bookworm, and proud of it.
I grew up on Enid Blyton, R.L Stine and Roald Dahl. Those are the authors whose names I can recall vividly. As clear as day. I also read the Shivers books by M.D. Spenser and the Animorphs series by K.A Applegate. The latter I picked up again just recently, as ahem… research. Purely research. Honest.
I cannot remember if I read anything in between, but the next two authors I remember reading were Charles Dickens and Stephen King. Of course, growing up near to where Dickens did, meant that I was a huge fan; even today A Christmas Carol remains my absolute favourite story and the imagery in that book is fantastic.
However it was Stephen King who made me want to make the transition from reader to writer. I don’t know if Cujo was the first King I read, but I do remember it being the one which inspired me to write. The way that King had written from the dog’s point of view left me in awe as an impressionable young writer.
I would go on to read most of Stephen King’s books and I am still in awe of his immense talent to tell a story with characters which become real people so quickly. There are too many of his books that I adore to list my favourites. However, for me, The Dark Tower series of novels are collectively my absolute favourite reads. The story is so deep and encompasses so many genres with incredible characters.
I wrote the first story I can remember aged ten, still at primary school. We came up with the premise as a class and were writing about a superhero named Ultra-Man. He had super strength which he had acquired after getting a knock to the head from a rock. (Quit laughing, we were ten!)
I ran out of time when writing the ending and so, I ended it with the immortal words “it was all a dream”. I shall never forget the (deserved) mocking my teacher issued me in front of the entire class. I was a shy, tiny kid and this could have broken me, but the teacher, Miss Devonshire, took me aside afterwards and said,
“When you are published, dedicate your first book to me.”
I never ever forgot those words and I was able to do just that a few years ago when I published my first book. She was the first person to believe in me and without her, I may not be where I am today.
Writing for children
When I began writing a story of my own after my schooling, I was imaging becoming the next Stephen King. I was writing a vampire novel, featuring a teenage girl as the main character. She was a witch whose mother was murdered by a vampire who was among the most feared creatures on the planet. So fearsome that he even had a werewolf as his sidekick.
That story is still on my iCloud and I will return to it one day.
Instead, I ended up writing a children’s book about a magic baby penguin named Fluffy. Which is probably as far away from the horror genre as humanly possible. The inspiration for the book and the series was a painting by my friend of over twenty years.
I had suddenly become Enid Blyton and I didn’t even realise how similar my style was to her own until I revisited her books last year with my son. He was growing quickly and was demanding chapter books instead of Julia Donaldson. I quickly fell in love with her books all over again, starting with Bimbo and Topsy and then The Magic Faraway Tree.
I also fell in love with writing for children and have had the pleasure of visiting a lot of the local schools and discussing writing, my books, and superheroes with students.
My new book is based on the Ultra-Man story I wrote in Year 6, but it’s now Ultra-Girl instead. Female characters are few and far between in literature, for no good reason. My book features two very strong and independent teenage girls who develop superpowers simultaneously but take different routes in utilising them.
I have read a lot, obviously, and my reading has been varied; this is so important for an author. All of the books I have read have taught me invaluable lessons and the authors/books listed above barely scratch the surface.
What I want to achieve in my writing career is to create a body of work which I can be proud of — first and foremost. I also aim to raise as many of the issues close to my heart as possible. Including sexism, racism, homophobia, homelessness, and bullying — to name but a few. The idea is that my books will be fun and transport the reader to another world whilst also raising an awareness of key social issues.