A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Mum and Dad tended to give pocket money if they remembered and considered we had been especially well-behaved that week. Occasionally we’d be able to get double, by catching both absent-minded parents in a good mood. Most weeks we’d get nothing at all. Which is why, when my sister had her tenth birthday, I was twelve and penniless.
So, I decided to write her a story.
It took me a whole week. It was about fifteen A4 pages long. It was ILLUSTRATED. I bound it together with embroidery thread and made it a shiny cover.
I can’t remember what I called it. But I remember what it was about:
You might think this odd, but we kept rats as pets and my sister was a horror fan. She liked to read Point Horror and she listened to Phil Collins. Go figure.
In my story, there were two sisters who woke up one day to find green slime coming from the sewers. Following the green slime … giant-killer-mutant-rats.
The whole town was taken over.
I sent the sisters time travelling to try and stop the rats.
In the end, I will admit, I wrote myself into a corner. Fifteen pages. My hand was sore and it was Claire’s birthday the next day. I still had to bind the thing and the sisters were way back in history with no idea how to stop the invasion.
To my eternal shame, I committed the cardinal writing sin: the sister’s woke up and it was all a dream. Even at the time I knew I’d done wrong.
But I DID have them look out of the window, to see green slime coming from the sewers, so a suitably horror-ish ending.
What made me prouder than anything was that my sister kept that little book longer than the other presents she got that year. She had it for years. She showed me one day when we were both adults and I laughed. But it was the present I worked hardest at and the story I’ll never forget.
My new book, Savage Island, out at Halloween, is a straight up horror – and I’m writing it for her.