A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Here is my confession. I didn’t want to be a writer.
Let me explain.
For me, stories were always there. They were what I thought about most of the time. While my school friends pretended to be footballers, I pretended to be Han Solo. While they hoped for a new cricket bat, I hoped for a blaster. While they dreamed about being the rugby captain, I dreamed about fighting The Empire. When they memorised the engine size and model names of sports cars, I did the same for x-wings, y-wings and The Millennium Falcon.
The first real cinema experience I remember is when I saw Star Wars in 1977. It captivated me so completely. I wanted nothing more than to be Han Solo. Of course, that was impossible because, well, Solo isn’t real. Not in this universe, anyway. But I could pretend to be him. I could make up stories in which I was the iconic, scruffy looking nerf-herder.
So I did. But that wasn’t enough. I grew hungry for stories, and began to hunt them down wherever I could. Films, comics, magazines, tv shows and, of course, books. And books were always important to me. My dad’s job took us all over the world, from Africa to Indonesia to Brazil, and we lived in some pretty remote places where there was a lot of fun to be had during the day, but there wasn’t much to do at night. So we had books to entertain us. HOORAY for books. And when I was at boarding school (boo hiss) books provided me with an escape from the regimented life. When I was stuck in a book, I could be anyone and I could be anywhere.
Even bigger HOORAY for books.
So I read avidly, always eager for more exciting stories. And then I discovered horror. Oh, yes. There was something so forbidden about reading horror stories, especially in the ‘80’s when books like The Rats, The Fog and The Shining were going round school. And then we had Thatcher’s video nasty scare to terrify Daily Mail readers across Britain. It all felt so illicit and forbidden and enticing and . . . that’s when I began to write my own stories and I finally knew what I was.
It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a writer – I just am a writer. For better or for worse.
But it would be so much cooler to be Han Solo.