I am a Lancashire lass born and bred. I grew up in a rambling old farmhouse bordering onto the moors of Bolton, with a slightly dysfunctional family and an adopted bunch of equally dysfunctional animals. My mum read to me from day one and I grew up desperate to read for myself. I was the only one in my infant class to read all the books in the school library in the first term. I had a marvellous childhood that was split between playing out in the countryside, drawing and painting with my mum and curled up with my head in a book. As such, I’ve grown up with a love of nature and the outdoors, art and literature.
In school I was only average at English, more into maths and the sciences. I just wasn’t inspired to write and I suppose I didn’t really put a lot of effort into it. I never really thought about being a writer, that came much later. When I left school I was keen on the outdoors, working with animals, and I did a couple of qualifications at the Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester. I had various part time jobs: at Jersey Zoo as a monkey chaser and wallaby catcher (I forget my actual job title) and on various local farms and animal sanctuaries. It was through these jobs that we ended up with a rapidly growing menagerie of other people’s unwanted animals – I’m a sucker for a sad story!
Throughout all of this I remained an avid reader obsessed with always having a book to hand and a back up just in case. I drove my family mad. Holidays were always a problem, with more reading time available, I needed at least one book a day so mine was always the heaviest suitcase.
Despite all my animal and outdoorsy experience, I couldn’t get a ‘proper’ job and quite by accident fell into a voluntary job teaching maths and English to teenagers with learning difficulties. With the help of my fabulous mentor I got a real job there and did some teaching qualifications at night school. I found my own struggles with English made me a sympathetic teacher for these young people and I started down a career route I had never considered. I then moved to teach at a college. My main role there is split between teaching Functional English to the younger learners on vocational courses and teaching adults; two very different groups and each challenging in their own way.
My husband and I moved to Cheshire to live in a wonky old cottage and my life changed considerably. I started my family and now have three lovely girls, Scarlett the diva, Sienna the tomboy and Sylva my little child of the woodlands. Like my mum, I want to instil a love of reading into my girls and read them bedtime stories every night. I now fill my house with children’s books and they overflow from every toy box and shelf.
Living in the countryside reawakened my love of nature and the outdoors so a few years ago we bought a little woodland in Shropshire. It was a crazy venture but one that has enhanced my life in ways I never thought possible. I started telling ‘Mummy Stories’ about my children’s adventures in the woods, my daughters would edit them and add to them until they were happy. I decided it would be nice to write these stories down so they would have a record of their childhood and maybe they could read them to their children.
So now my life is full with managing my children’s madcap antics. Pink and glitter dominate the house and my husband is planning to build a shed at the bottom of the garden to retreat to. Normal attire is an eclectic mix of wellies, frilly tutus and fairy wings – myself included!
We escape to the woods at every possible opportunity and enjoy the peace and solitude. My husband busies himself making fire and chopping logs while I take the girls off on adventures in their own enchanted woodland. Hunting for fairies and listening to trees, discovering secret fields and stomping in puddles, I revel in their experiences then transform them into adventures on paper.
And so Sylvanian Ramblings was born and I became the Sylva Fae of our little wood.