About Me

I am a writer. I've had a lot of books published and the ends of my fingers are blunt. But I seem to spend a lot of time not writing. As some of you know. 

You'll find some links at the bottom of the page.

Here's a little biography, leaving out the embarrassing bits.

I was born in a school. My parents lived in the school and presumably thought it was a perfectly sensible place to have a baby. We moved several times in my childhood, always to schools. Boys' schools. Yup.
It was a childhood of huge freedom. The schools were in the country, so in the holidays my younger sisters and I had free run of amazing facilities and endless countryside. I spent my days climbing trees, building rafts, making bows and arrows, and riding my pony in the woods.
At 11, I went to a girls’ boarding school. Strangely, no-one there was at all impressed by my tree-climbing or weapon-making skills. I was also two years younger than my class-mates, something which I assure you is not ideal.
I did Classics and Philosophy at Cambridge. Philosophy was the best bit – endless discussions about meanings, and meanings of meanings. And somehow I decided that I wanted to be a novelist.
It was all very well being trained to discuss meanings of meanings but exactly how was it going to earn me a living? And as far as being a novelist was concerned, I also knew I had to have a ‘proper job’ to tide me through the rejection letters, which I believed I would suffer for at least six months. (Rather than the 21 years it actually took.)
I became a cook - for a Belgravia advertising agency and the posh ladies of South Kensington who wanted dinner parties cooked for them secretly - and then a teacher. I taught English in such a small school that I was the whole English department. This school led me into the world of children with reading difficulties like dyslexia. I did a Diploma in teaching people with reading and writing problems.
By 1999, I’d had quite a few home-learning books published and my writing was becoming successful. Soon I stopped teaching altogether. Magic Readers became The Child Literacy Centre, which I ran for many years before my writing took over completely.
My first novel for teenagers, Mondays are Red, was published in 2002 - now back as a lovely ebook with new material! - and over the next few years I wrote a number of novels and non-fiction books, mostly for teenagers but some for younger children. I have written around ninety books altogether, including Thomas the Tank Engine books and the best-selling UK home learning series, I Can Learn.
I’ve also written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles for adults, and now spend quite a lot of time writing and speaking about how to become published. 
Over the years, I’ve been on lots of award shortlists and have won a few. My last YA novel, Wasted, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, shortlisted for ten awards and won three. I’ve also written non-fiction for adults: Write to be Published, and the ebooks Write a Great Synopsis and Tweet Right – The Sensible Person’s Guide to Twitter.

I live in Edinburgh, near Calton Hill, but also share a flat in London. I am married with two grown-up daughters. And a dog, a yellow labrador called Amber, a gorgeous nuisance. 

I love shoes and boots, sparkly wine, chocolate, sunshine and sensible people who laugh, but not in a really irritating way. I'm known as the Crabbit Old Bat, but you'll only see that side of me if you provoke me with foolishness. 

My main website is here. I warn you: there is a lot there...