I grew up in a family of seven on a small farm on the South Island of New Zealand. I was very busy with all sorts of activities, such as ballet, Highland dancing, drama league, choir, and playing violin, piano, and bagpipes.
My first memory of writing comes from when I was about five. Every week in school, we had to make a story, and the best one would win a prize. I won a Holly Hobbie poster that said, “Start each day in a happy way.” I kept it in my room all through my childhood. I still have the poster, but I can’t remember what my story was about!
When I was fourteen, I started writing music, and, one summer, I wrote a short song every day that I would play for my dad after dinner. That summer, I started writing musicals, which has been a fun way to practice writing an interesting story.
After high school, I attended drama school, traveled a lot, graduated from university with a bachelor of arts in English literature, earned a graduate diploma in marketing, and then had a string of odd jobs, my favorite of which was at a radio station.
Then, I met Steve, and my life really started to accelerate. We now live in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and we are the proud founders of Glow Word Books. I adore writing because it’s so creative, imaginative, and fun. I always try to write friendly books, like ones I would want to read to my son. I try to write books that just can’t be put down, ones that make a person want to read into the night.
Questions I Get Asked the Most
Q. Are you from England?
A. No, I am from New Zealand. Now that I live in America, I always find it weird that people don’t know the difference between a British accent and a Kiwi accent. But I guess a person only knows what accents he or she grew up with. I grew up in Timaru, a small seaside town in the South Island of New Zealand. My parents were both teachers, and they have a hobby organic farm in a valley. I spent a lot of time imagining I was in fictional worlds up in the paddocks or on the old rowboat as I paddled along the creek.
Q. What do you like to do?
A. I love to read and spend time outdoors. I don’t care what I am doing, as long as I am around nature. I like spending time playing with my son or eating delicious organic food. I also enjoy talking about writing with my husband, who is also a writer.
Q. What’s your favorite time of year?
A. I love autumn. I think that is because my birthday falls around there. I also think the weather is perfect—not too hot, not too cold. Plus, I love the sound leaves make during a nice autumn stroll.
Q. What’s your favorite holiday?
A. I love Christmas. I put our Christmas tree up as early as I can and leave it up for as long as I can. I am the type of person that could live Christmas all year long, and I often find myself still singing Christmas carols in June.
Q. What’s your favorite color?
A. Color, I think, is so fantastic that it is hard for me to choose just one, and so I have many favorites. But the one that seems to remain constant is green, the color of nature. I can’t think of anything better than lying back in the green grass and looking up at the green trees blowing in the green wind—just kidding about the wind.
Q. Do you have any pets?
A. Not now, but when I was younger, I had a dog that was a cute, little Yorkie terrier. Since we lived on a farm, we adopted any stray cats that came our way, which meant we had at least three at any one time. We also had pigs, turkeys, peacocks, sheep, and a bunch of chickens. I also had a couple of fantails that used to fly around our balcony, which I nicknamed Fannie and Frankie, and some hedgehogs that sometimes turned up at the door. I would feed the hedgehogs milk with bread chunks in it. I just think hedgehogs are the cutest, don’t you?
Questions about Writing
Q. Who is your favorite author?
A. Roald Dahl. His book Danny, the Champion of the World is still one of my favorite books of all time. I always thought it would be amazing to live in a gypsy caravan, and who wouldn’t want the baddie’s car to be covered in bird poop? Lately, I have also been reading anything and everything that Brandon Mull has written. The only bad part about his books is that they have to end, but the best bits are his amazing twists. There was one in Fablehaven that I still can’t believe happened!
Q. When did you first starting writing books?
A. Well, when I was about thirteen, I started writing musicals. I did everything myself: composing, writing, and even costume design. After I met my husband and he started writing books, I decided writing kids’ books would be something I would love to do.
Q. How do you get your ideas?
A. I get them from daydreaming and then being open to those daydreams. I also think the best question to ask yourself if you are trying to come up with an idea for a book is “what would be the coolest thing to happen tonight?” or “where would be the coolest place to be?” And when asking yourself this, you have to remind yourself that there are no limits, so instead of thinking it would be cool to eat a really big banana sundae, you could instead think it would be really cool to eat one the size of a house.
Q. What is the hardest thing about being an author?
A. I think the hardest bit about being an author is not listening to that little voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough. The voice says that I’m a fool for trying to write books, but I tell myself that I would be a fool not to. It takes a lot of determination and a lot of research to become a self-published author, since you have to do everything yourself, but my husband and I find it very rewarding since we don’t have to give creative control to anyone else.
Q. When do you write?
A. Usually in the afternoons for a couple of hours. I find it hard to concentrate for more than that, and if I try to, I just end up staring at the computer screen.
Q. Any advice to budding authors?
A. Yes, I have a ton of advice, but my biggest piece of advice is to not waste time listening to anyone who says that you cannot be an author—only you can decide how you want to live your life. The less you listen to people who say you can’t write, the more time you can spend practicing your craft and getting better. Remember, you can’t expect to be good at writing stories overnight, just like a concert pianist can’t expect to play a grand hall after one lesson. Keep writing, and when you do make it, you will have a ton of stories waiting in the wings for all your fans to read.
The hardest thing to overcome for me was simply believing that I was good enough. Once I believed that, the rest was easy.