Home – About Me

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Gecko: my latest picture book

New: National Radio interview

Monthly blog

Books are bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.– J.R. Lowell

A Brief History of Me

My parents were cruel: my father made me slide down mountains – even when I had mumps (exhibit A: photo below); and my mother trapped me in a dungeon full of old books. No, not really. Mum worked in a small children’s library where I’d go after school, which inspired my love of books; and Dad was a mountaineer and gave me a love of the outdoors. Significant childhood books were Horton Hatches the Egg; The Crab with the Golden Claws; the Moomins and The Hobbit. As a teen I loved reading sci-fi, especially Ray Bradbury stories.

A small me skiing

My first adult jobs included community work, gardener, insect research assistant (aka bug counter);  later a primary school teacher for 15 years; and now a full time writer and freelance editor. I’ve always got a buzz from writing — I thank my Year 4 teacher, Mr Stedman, who praised a quirky report I wrote. I have a science degree and love writing science books for children. In 2018 I’m excited to have a fellowship to write about the wonders of trees.

My wife Penelope Todd is a fine novelist, bold publisher and excellent editor and we have three lovely grown up children and two grandchildren.

My Author Profile (Book Council)

Newspaper interview No.1: Flying the Flag for Peace

Newspaper interview No.2: Making Bee Lines

Random Questions:

What were you like at school? A bit shy, a bit worried, but I had a sense of humour that made it a bit of fun.

What was your favourite/most hated subject at school? I loved English but found PE painful (I was skinny and always cold).

What was your most embarrassing moment? When a teacher dragged me off stage in our high school talent show; she said I was ‘showing off’. (I thought that was the point.)

Which person from the past would you most like to meet? Myself as a schoolboy: I’d tell me not to worry so much.

Who inspired you when you were little? Yes, he did: Doctor Who, that is. Black and white TV was wonderfully creepy.

What was the book you most loved as a child? Calico the Wonder Horse (The Saga of Stewy Stinker) by Virginia Lee Burton.

Who is your favourite children’s author now?  Tove Jansson (Moomin books).

What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer? Worst is not enough time; best is when I first see a copy of my book arriving in the snailmailbox.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be? A film-maker. Favourite movie at the moment, A Matter Of Life And Death.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Read great books. Write down your dreams (both sorts). Be very persistent; one day you will be published.

What is your favourite food? Honey from my bees, blackcurrants from my garden.

Do you have a nickname ? No, but I’ve been likened to comics characters: Tintin (it’s the hair) and Calvin’s dad (the bike helmet and glasses).

Limestone carvingHow do you relax? By chipping limestone while listening to scratchy 20 Solid Gold Hits LPs (an ancient form of music).

Newspaper interview No.2

Here’s our dog; we miss her!