I was born and brought up in North London. Our flat was situated directly opposite to a Police Station. All through my childhood I would see police cars pulling away, with sirens sounding and lights flashing, and I'd wonder where they were going. Perhaps it was that early curiosity that made write crime novels. The only time I actually entered the Police Station was when I was ten years old, as part of a chain of dancing figures, led by my Welsh grandfather, who created the finale to my cousin's wedding by dancing us from the reception venue, along the street, round the Police Station lobby and back again. My mother, who did not join in the Bacchnalian revelry, was mortified. I think it has always been part of me, perhaps from that rebellious Celtic inheritance, that everything goes better with a twist of humour and mischief.
I cannot remember a time when I did not make up stories and my first published work was several short stories for Woman's Weekly. I've always been impressed by the editors' willingness to try out new things. They once published one of my stories that was in the Present Tense, First Person viewpoint of a seventeen-year-old, homeless boy.
It was a shock to a Big City girl to move to a village in rural Hampshire but after forty years I'm just about used to it. In fact I base my crime fiction in the south-coast area. Although I write about fictional towns, several of my readers say that they have identified the places that inspired Ledleigh, Saltern and Galmouth, the towns where my police officers operate. My South Coast Crime books have different teams working different crimes but often an officer from one team will join another investigation, as happens in real life.
I've spent most of my working life teaching and believe passionately that the creative arts can improve people's mental, emotional and physical health. For many years I taught Creative Writing, Literature, Literacy and Local History at a day centre for adults with severe physical disabilities, an empowering experience for everyone – teachers and students.
Adi and the Dream Train
Recently I have written a series of stories for my autistic grandson, Adam, who has illustrated the first one Adi and the Dream Train. Adam's achievement gained him the accolade of second place in the Portsmouth News' Children of Achievement, Challenging Disability 2015. We have now written and illustrated a second book in the series, Adi Rides the Night Mare, and have started on a Christmas story, Adi Saves the White Train, to which Adam has contributed a large portion of the story as well as the illustrations.
Mystery People & The Deadly Dames
I have been a reviewer for Mystery People for many years and, two years ago, the founder and editor-in-chief of Mystery People, Lizzie Hayes, asked me to write a short series of articles about the authors of the Golden Age of Mystery. Over twenty articles later I am still producing a fresh one every month and enjoy discovering the writers of the Golden Age, some well remembered, others almost forgotten. An unexpected bonus is that I have become something of an 'expert' on the subject and have given papers at Crime Fiction Conferences and have just been accepted to contribute to an anthology about the 100 Greatest Fiction Detectives.
Lizzie Hayes also had the inspiration to set up and sponsor a panel of crime writers, The Deadly Dames, and suggested that I should be the Participating Moderator. Along with fellow Dames Charlie Cochrane, Joan Moules, Eileen Robertson and Nicola Slade, I have appeared at some wonderful events, including Bookcrossing at Oxford and the RNA Conference 2015. We've also had some very exciting guests, such as Peter Lovesey, Peter Tickler and Leigh Russell.