Thinking back over too many years that I care to count, I have a vague recollection of where my writing journey started. It was in Croydon, in Surrey, and I was about six. We’d moved from Newcastle upon Tyne. The house itself was a three storey monstrosity with lodgers on the top floor called Mary and Harold, and it stood opposite a derelict piece of land where a doodle bug had fallen during the war – not that I can remember it I hasten to add. It was a few years before my time. The site was now a factory that made stands for the forthcoming coronation of the Queen. It wasn’t in a particularly nice area but it was the only house my parents could afford at the time – and the only one available.
The main problem with moving from the north to the south of the country was no-one at school seemed to understand my ‘Geordie’ accent so I was forced to endure catty remarks and teasing. I found it really hard, especially when all I wanted to do was make friends. But then two remarkable girls appeared in my life.
Beverly Anastaner and Lavinia McLauchlin. They were the same age as me – six, and you’d never believe the warmth of friendship I formed with these two dear girls and how grateful I was for the way they eased my loneliness. They never teased me, and were never catty or made snide remarks. They were perfect – because they came out of my imagination.
Of course, at six, there was no great awareness that I wanted to write. That emerged gradually as I began to achieve top grades for English, compositions and reading and wallowed in the praises of my teacher, but found myself scraping across the floor in the maths and sciences and having to endure detention. That was when I realised I’d be better off sticking to the things I was good at. Isn’t it strange how discovering your role in life can come out of painful experiences?