I was born near Manchester and still live there to this day I have written nineteen novels for people of all ages. I teach literature and creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where I am also Programme leader of a new MA in Publishing. I have given lots of readings, at bookshops, festivals, libraries and in schools.
The second most frequently asked question by children at readings: how did I get to be a writer?
Well, it all started when I was about seven. I produced a series of what I thought were terrifically good poems about fairies and announced my intention to become an author. The response was disappointing.
“Authoress, you duckhead,” my friend said.
Now at this time I lived seven floors up in a block of flats. I spent much of my time on the balcony, leaning out at dangerous angles and attempting to touch the moon and the stars.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
Many harsh things have been said about the tower block estates, some of them by me, but I do remember the vivid sense of being part of the sky. On one occasion, for instance, I saw a massive cloud descending towards earth. The underside of the cloud was heavy and grey, but the top was suffused with light, and I held my breath as the cloud descended, fully expecting to see a part of heaven, and perhaps catch hold of an angel, but sadly it didn’t descend far enough.
I also remember watching the first moon landing on TV, and the series ‘Star Trek’, so that I can honestly say I spent most of my childhood in outer space, moving to Middle Earth when I was about ten. I am still very keen on astronomy, just like Guy.
Also, it is now known that the part of the brain responsible for balance, the cerebellum, affects the development of language, so it is possible that all the hours I spent dangling over my balcony, risking life and limb, had an effect on my literary leanings! But again, this is not something I can recommend.
On a more practical level, I carried on writing in fits and starts, got discouraged with myself for never finishing anything, and eventually when I did finish something, typed it up and sent it to an agent. Or to four agents, in fact, who promptly sent it back. To which I responded in the calm and mature way I encourage in other aspiring writers (flinging myself to the floor and crying loudly). But the fifth agent accepted my novel, and that same week the manuscript of Under a Thin Moon was accepted by two major publishers!
These days I divide my time between writing and teaching at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Watching television programmes about astronomy has replaced my earlier desire to be an intergalactic traveller. I do Pilates and work on my allotment to combat my otherwise inactive lifestyle and I read, of course.
The most frequently asked question by children at readings: how much do you earn?
Ans: it varies
The most unusual question I have ever been asked: Are you Roald Dahl