Tell us about your most recent publication.
Ocean Devotion is a hopeful and powerful book about the plastic island in the ocean and young people getting involved in helping to reduce pollution. With the bright illustrations telling the story without words, the underlying deeper messages of a call to action are explored. A brilliantly constructed story that gently acts as a conversation starter for the young about environmental matters.
The young protagonists Khalea and Ohipo live by the ocean. They enjoy a beautiful life full of wonder and nature. One day they see a shiny object out at sea. On exploration, they discover to their horror that it is an island made of plastic rubbish. The fish are dying and the ocean is polluted. They quickly resolve to take action and help save their marine friends. They enlist the community in helping dredge the rubbish from the ocean and find that they can help renew their world and bring hope for future.
Do you have any writing rituals you can share?I get up around 5- 5.30am and always start my day down by the ocean. It centres me for the day. I make lists of tasks I need to work through. I focus in on a particular scene or character I’m working on and only think about that. I try to stop every hour and stretch or change my position, and I often like to stop when I am writing well and then feel more confident when I go back to my desk that it’s a good place rather than go back to where I was stuck. I always reread what I last wrote before starting a new writing session.
I also like to create playlists that go with the writing / character – sort of like an audible mood board! I like creating a Zen space and will have to have my desk clear to think with no distractions. I like having a candle burning and working in the outdoors down at my local ocean pool. I usually wear headphones even if I am listening to nothing as it sends a signal to the people around me that I am not to be disturbed! I must admit that my family find that ritual very annoying!
Top tip/s for writers?Read, read, read!
Always jot your ideas down otherwise you’ll lose them.
Never fear critiques – they are designed to help your writing reach its potential
Spend time with other writers
Listen to the news – it is full of world stories
Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?Absolutely. I was born in Manchester England and moved to Scotland when I was seven years old. It was not always easy being seen as the outsider, although my mother was fully Scots. My accent and mixed background meant that my siblings and I were seen as ‘Sassenachs’ and often were the subject of racially focused bullying. I guess this sense of being on the outside and not feeling included has influenced much of my writing, so in a funny way those bullies did me a favour.
In these recent years I have become involved in the area of family and mental health education. My first book ‘The Disappearing Sister’ has gained attention for its simple explanation of eating disorders aimed at siblings and families of sufferers. This came about after my own lived experience as a carer in this area. My awareness of the role of storytelling in clinical settings was awakened, leading me to writing and researching more widely in the mental and family health sector.
In regard to my stories about the natural world, my personal interest and love of the outdoors drives me to write in a way that I hope inspires young people to take up the call to action to care for their planet.
Other than writing, what else do you love?I love my family, my friends, my dog!
I love nature, seeing the sun rise, watching the ocean move and being outdoors. I love to run and to swim in the ocean.
I love going the movies and listening to music.
Do you have a favourite character from your stories? Spill the beans and tell us about them.Yes, Fiona the Lifeguard is my favourite. She is a real person and she is simply so brave and resilient. I wish I could surf and swim like her, and her brave attitude is inspiring. She is a person who has suffered a great deal of gender bullying over the course of her life, and it amazes me how she has not let that deter her and yet does not push to be recognised – rather she just gets on with her job and looks after her family. I do not believe that her work and what she has achieved has truly been recognised or appreciated. Yet what she has done has helped build a vision for a more equal world as well as a safer one in the surf.
If you had a premonition you would be stranded on a desert island, what five books would you take with you?Bramstoker’s Dracula is my favourite of all time – such brilliant writing
Also Winnie-the-Pooh complete works – so comforting
Love in the Time of Cholera – for hope and patience
The Arabian Nights – because it’s a good long read
And perhaps one of Austen’s: Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice depending on my mood.
Join you local writer’s group.
Be part of the CBCA, ASA, SCBWI and local communities.
They will support you and you can help support others. It is so great being surrounded by like-minded people!