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, followed by an MA at the University of Manchester.
My first job was working in a bookshop (Waterstones Lancaster) 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, YALC 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 world of Edwardian espionage. The first book Peril in Paris was published in 2018, with the sequel Spies in St Petersburg due to come out in May 2019.
I’ve also written Rose’s Dress of Dreams, which is illustrated by Kate Pankhurst, as part of Barrington Stoke’s super-readable Little Gems series. You can also find more of my writing in several short story anthologies – Mystery & Mayhem, Winter Magic, Quest and Make More Noise.
I now live in Lancaster, in an old house not far from Lancaster Castle, but I also spend lots of my time in London. Apart from books and writing, I love art galleries, wearing cosy jumpers, going for long windswept walks, black-and-white films, red shoes and obviously, cake. My all-time favourite book is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.