I was born in Preston and grew up in Lancashire. Here I am practising my detective skills at an early age!
I’ve always loved books, and after spending my school days reading, writing plays, editing the school magazine and writing endless stories, I went to study English Literature at Bristol University and the University of Manchester.
My first job was working in a Waterstones bookshop and since then almost everything I have done has had a bookish theme, including working for Arts Council England’s North West office, specialising in literature.
After moving to London, I spent six years working for reading charity Book Trust on projects such as the Children’s Laureate, which gave me the chance to work with top children’s writers and illustrators including Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson, Malorie Blackman and Chris Riddell. I also looked after events such as YALC (the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention) and prizes like the Blue Peter Book Awards.
I now combine writing with other children’s book projects. In 2014, I started a children’s book radio show, Down the Rabbit Hole on Resonance 104.4FM, which I run and co-host with Melissa Cox and Louise Lamont. It’s now also available as a podcast, and was selected by the Times as one of their Top 10 podcasts for children. Find out more about the show at dtrhradio.com or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.
You’ll also find me organising book events, reviewing children’s books for The Week Junior, and chairing events everywhere from the London Book Fair to the Hay Festival to Waterstones Piccadilly.
My first book, the bestselling The Clockwork Sparrow, was published by Egmont in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, longlisted for the Branford Boase Award and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. It’s been followed by three more titles in the Sinclair’s Mysteries series – The Jewelled Moth, The Painted Dragon and The Midnight Peacock.
New series Taylor & Rose Secret Agents, illustrated by Karl James Mountford, follows the heroines of the Sinclair’s Mysteries as they continue their adventures, this time venturing into the thrilling world of espionage. The first two books Peril in Paris and Spies in St Petersburg are out now, with the third book, Villains in Venice due out this summer. Look out for new mini adventure Secrets on the Shore.
I’ve also written Rose’s Dress of Dreams, illustrated by Kate Pankhurst, and Sophie Takes to the Sky, illustrated by Briony May Smith. Part of Barrington Stoke’s super-readable Little Gems series, these books are both inspired by real-life historical heroines. You can also find more of my writing in several short story anthologies including Mystery & Mayhem, Winter Magic and Make More Noise.
In 2017 I was selected as one of the Aarhus 39 – a selection of the best children’s and YA writers from all over Europe, aged 40 and under.
I now live in Lancashire, close to an old castle, but I still spend lots of my time in London. Apart from books, writing and history, I love art galleries, wearing cosy jumpers, going for windswept walks, black-and-white films, red shoes and obviously, cake. My all-time favourite book is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.