I grew up in a village in Kent, and I have a younger brother named Greg. When I was very little, my mum owned a riding school and taught me to ride on a small pony named Tango(although I wasn't very brave when the pony started to trot too fast or canter). I loved drawing from a young age, and my favorite thing to do was to draw little characters and make up stories about them. I loved reading and would spend Saturday mornings at the library choosing new books to read during the week. My favorite picture book was In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. I still have the book — although it's falling apart now! When I was older, I loved all the Tintin books and any historical novels, such as The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett.
I studied illustration at Swindon College School of Art and then worked in an advertising agency and a design studio. I learned how to storyboard, and I still like using A2 size layout pads to plan my stories. You can draw out a whole twelve-spread book on one page! After getting married and having two children, I studied at Kingston University, where I graduated with honors, earning a BA in illustration and animation. My final project, a children's picture book, was Highly Commended for the Macmillan Prize and became The Lonely Giant.
I always have a small sketchbook in my bag and love to sketch people and places or jot down funny things I hear or see. Inspiration for stories can come from anywhere. I love the moment when an idea starts to form into a new story. I just want to draw and redraw the characters in as many ways as possible so that I really get to know the character. Usually the story develops while drawing. I like listening to the radio while I'm painting the finished artwork, but find it a bit distracting when I'm planning the story. I usually have a mug of hot tea to keep the ideas flowing!
Three Things You Didn't Know About Me
1. My primary school had a sheep as a mascot. Every summer it would be shorn in front of the whole school!
2. I love picnics at all times of the year and often take a flask of tea with me when I go for a long walk.
3. I live in the city and have an allotment with a small pond that is home to three frogs. I enjoy growing fruit and vegetables — they taste better than bought ones!