Ok, I think I’m supposed to write a page about me.
Me and performance?
Me and teaching?
No, writing, remember?
But where to start?
Well, to be honest, it’s weird to be talking about my own writing. I trained in Musical Theatre at Italia Conti, and have spent many years performing other people’s work. I’m mostly a teacher now, and spend lots of time working with text by other writers. So yes, it does feel odd to be working with some of my own words; very different from the great writers I study with my students: Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Austen, Morpurpo and Dahl, to name just a few.
Whilst I wouldn’t hope to compete with the likes above, I’ve definitely experienced moments when I’ve read a book, and thought…well, I know I can do better than that (no names – sorry).
I reached that inevitable moment a few years ago, when I knew I either had to stop complaining or do something about it. I sat down, drank some coffee, and got to work (I find that not much work gets done without coffee).
I was slightly surprised when I finished my first novel but, looking back, I realise I’ve been telling stories ever since I was small (or smaller – I still haven’t reached five foot). Perhaps I didn’t realise it at the time, because I tended to act them out rather than write them down. The kids always wanted to play in my imaginary worlds at break times, and the adults always wanted to listen to my stories at Christmas (fully-staged performances in the lounge, obviously).
My parents gave my sister and I a love for stories: my mum, a definitive bookworm, who inspired our interest in literature, and my dad, the spinner of bedtime tales, which just kept us wide-awake and desperate for more (if he wanted us to sleep, he shouldn’t have let Mr. Toad go on such adventures).
As a teacher, now retired, my mum instilled an appreciation for the written word in each and every one of her students. Hearing her talk about a book is a really lovely thing (and she remembers all of them. Every single bit). I’ll often be preparing for lessons, and say “Mum remind me about this book again?” And off she goes… unstoppable… (until she stops discussing chapters and characters and tries to navigate anything more technical than an alarm clock). She’s helped me considerably throughout my life: fighting for the funding to send me to Italia Conti, giving me the skills to run The Kett School, and, most recently, giving me the courage to write. I was terrified when I handed her my first manuscript, because I was scared she’d tell me that it just wasn’t good enough. I can hear you thinking: “She’s your mum. She wouldn’t say that.”
She’d be the first to tell me it was rubbish and to use my time better.
But she didn’t, and she still hasn’t…
And I don’t think I can say better than that, on this little page about me.