I’m originally from Warwickshire but grew up in rural West Wales and am currently based in Yorkshire. I’ve also lived in France, Syria and Egypt and I believe that all these countries have influenced my work.
As an undergraduate, I read Arabic at the University of Durham and then gave up languages in favour of going to Film School. I completed a Screenwriting MA in my mid-twenties, then trained as an English teacher and started a business.
I have spent the last ten years writing, illustrating and, as those of you who are familiar with the Father Christmas letters will know, bringing both together to create a distinct storytelling style. My Father Christmas letters have been enjoyed by thousands of children worldwide – and I’ve made a small collection of them available to print free at www.rooftoppost.co.uk. Personalised copies of the rest can be purchased from Rooftop Post’s online shop.
Up until recently, I’ve been teaching screenwriting on a part-time basis at the Northern Film School in Leeds but I’m now looking to embark on a PhD. It’s time to focus my attention on a particular area of the writing process and see if I can uncover something useful.
My artistic background is almost entirely self-taught. I say “almost” because I did take Art A-level and am eternally grateful to a lovely teacher named Mr. Waddington, from whom I learnt to draw from life instead of photographs and who never missed a chance to tell me it’s important to be technically accurate before you rush off into the realm of impressionism and so forth. Without him, my children’s illustrations would have been “childlike” because they had to be rather than because it was a stylistic decision and my botanical paintings could simply never have occurred.
I have built up a good deal of experience over many years. In terms of media, I tend to work in gouache and watercolour, though I also enjoy collage. I employ a number of different styles in my creations, depending on what’s called for. I am particularly fond of attempting photo-accurate still life, scientifically accurate botanical studies and magical children’s illustrations.
My writing background is varied. I write children’s stories in both poetry and prose, and it is within those forms that I have had the greatest commercial success. However, I also have a particular interest in dramatic writing – particularly in film and TV. I have an MA in Screenwriting and in the last few years have teamed up with a co-writer, Keith Dando, in order to develop script ideas. It has surprised me how productive and enjoyable it is to work closely with another writer and although it is early days for us, we have placed in several well-known screenwriting competitions and have high hopes for our latest story.
In addition to writing myself, I love helping others develop their work. Over the years, I have devoted a good deal of time to this and I intend to return to teaching/lecturing once my PhD over.
At the time of writing, we are in the second half of 2017 and Christmas is drawing closer. Consequently, I’m in the middle of writing more Father Christmas story-letters. So the writing projects are racking up. I’m also working on a new Grandma’s Cat book (for children aged eight and above), an idea for a young adult novel and a new co-written feature script. This may sound like a lot but I find it tremendously helpful to be able to chop and change, it helps me get more done.