Q: First tell us something about yourself.
I live in London with my husband, three children and two dogs! After school, I went to Oxford University to study English Literature and then went to Law School to train to be a lawyer. I worked in a large, corporate law firm for a few years before leaving to go and teach at Law School myself. I was always doing creative writing courses on the side and eventually started an MA in Creative Writing.
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
As a child I was always writing stories and poems. My brothers and sister were quite a lot older than me so I had a lot of time on my own. My sister used to buy me books for Christmas and birthdays and we had a wonderful library in Clapham where I grew up. I read a lot and reading widely, of course, is a very important part of being a good writer.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
The first thing I really remember writing is a poem, a rather sad one, about being in a room on my own and having nothing to do. I remember the opening lines:
“I sat in a room. It was lonely and cold.I had no one to talk to,nothing to be told.”
Not very cheery!
As I grew up I began writing more for adults; short stories and novels. An excerpt of one of my short stories was published in a literary magazine called Mslexia.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
The book I have just published, Pino the Pigeon, is for children aged 3 to 10, I would say. Younger children would enjoy having it read to them and older children could read it for themselves. There are lots of colourful pictures to keep their attention and help them understand the story. It’s also written in rhyme which makes it fun to read.
It’s about a pigeon, Pino, who looks different to all the other pigeons. He has a huge tuft of embarrassing feathers on top of his head and gets teased for it, especially by Worm and his gang. Feeling lonely and rejected, Pino runs away from home in search of a real friend. He heads for Trafalgar Square as he’s heard lots of pigeons live there. On his journey, he encounters various dangers, until finally he meets Rat, a feisty, friendly little thing who makes it her mission to help Pino get to his destination. With Rat’s help, things transform for Pino and the two of them end up victorious!
It’s a story about friendship, courage and celebrating our differences, intended to inspire little ones to spread their wings and fly high!
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
When I was a little girl, my dad used to take me to Trafalgar Square to feed the pigeons. You could buy a pot of seeds there for 10 pence and hold it out so that the pigeons came to you to feed. It obviously made a lasting impression on me!
As for the character of Rat, living in London, I took the tube to work everyday for many years. Sometimes I would see tiny black rats scurrying along the tracks looking for food and then they would disappear back into the tunnel when a tube was approaching. When I was thinking about how Pino was going to get to Trafalgar Square, it occurred to me that he could go through the underground tube tunnels and that a friendly, knowledgeable rat would be his perfect companion!
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
The message I would like young readers to take away is that it’s okay to be different. There is so much pressure to fit in and be the same. As the closing verse of the book says:“Same is not better. Same is not best. You don’t need to be like all the rest.”
Follow me on Instagram @pinopigeon for more info and photos.