I grew up in Devon before moving away to Surrey and then Hampshire to work and bring up my family. After many years of trying to move back to East Devon where the Talyton St George books are set, I finally made it in 2016.
I’ve always been fascinated by animals and books. We had various family pets – Guide Dog puppies, dogs, cats, stick insects, gerbils, tortoises and ponies – and I used to love spending time on the beach, scouring the rock pools for weird and wonderful creatures like sea hares and hermit crabs. I was also an avid reader, reading anything from the backs of cereal boxes to books from the library van. Inspired by James Herriot and the animals I’d met, I applied to university to study veterinary medicine.
I spent six years in Cambridge where as well as learning how to diagnose pregnancy in cows, and neuter cats, I coxed a Ladies’ eight and punted on the river Cam. When I qualified, I began my working life in small animal practice in Middlesex and then in Surrey, treating a variety of animals from cats and dogs to rats and rabbits, and even a marmoset, before turning to writing fiction.
I joined a creative writers’ group where we experimented with different styles of writing in a fun and supportive atmosphere, enhanced by plenty of wine and cheese. And then it started to get serious… I sent off outlines and chapters of various books, and received many rejections in return, and just as I was beginning to think that writing might not be for me, I entered a competition for a novel set in London. I won the Harry Bowling First Novel Award in 2002, met my wonderful agent, Laura, and my writing career took off.
As if I didn’t have enough to do with writing, bringing up a family and looking after various pets, including a pony or two, I enjoyed a few years as a college lecturer, teaching Animal Management and Veterinary Nursing. It was a challenge, returning to study for a teaching qualification as a mature student at the same time as writing one or two books a year, but I loved it - in a mad sort of way.
Since I moved back to Devon from Winchester, I’ve been working part-time as a vet again in a small animal clinic that reminds me a little of Otter House vets, the fictional practice in Talyton St George.
At the moment I live with my muses - two Border Terriers. My children have grown up and gone off to university - although they like to drop by now and again with their washing.