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The Wilderness War
The Wilderness is a patch of land opposite the row of terraced houses where Noah lives with his sister and friends. It is the perfect place for building dens, making fires, mucking about and playing games like man-hunt after dark. It’s the one place where Noah and his friends feel truly free.

Then, at the very beginning of the summer holidays, the best time of all, a sign appears: LAND FOR SALE. Doesn’t anyone care about the wild life and the trees? The deer who comes at dawn, the baby crow Noah has been feeding, all of the creatures who’ve made the Wilderness their home?

One thing is for sure – Noah and his friends are not giving up on the Wilderness without a fight. They will protect this place they love and keep it safe.
Somehow.

Praise for The Wilderness War:
"An inspiring and empowering story... Children fight for their backyard wilderness and its role in their lives." Nicola Davies, author of The First Book of Nature, The Promise; Whale Boy

"A beautiful and important story" Gill Lewis, author of Skyhawk and Gorilla Dawn

Why I wrote The Wilderness War

This story was inspired by my own childhood, playing outside and making dens, and by the games my children played with their cousins and friends living in the same street.

Playing outside is good for us in every possible way; it teaches us to take risks and be strong, to use our imagination and be creative. It gives us a connection with the natural world and makes us care. And if we care about the natural world, we will try to protect it. Never has this been more important than now.

About This Norther Sky
Fifteen-year-old Kate is taken on holiday by her parents for the summer to a remote island in the Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. She knows it's a make-or-break holiday for her parents: they are on the verge of splitting up.  She'd rather be anywhere than here with them. Kate is recovering from a break-up of her own, with Sam. She's writing a diary, the story of my heart...

But nothing stands still. She meets a boy called Finn, and his brothers and friends, and things begin to change in surprising ways. She's falling in love with a place – what Mum calls ‘island magic'. She makes new friendships, discovers new ways of seeing the world.

Kate can't change what happens to her parents, but she can find ways to cope with loss, make her own decisions and take charge of her own life.  A broken heart can mend.

Praise for This Northern Sky by other authors:
"A beautiful book" David Almond

"Julia's writing is wonderful and distinctive" Nicola Davies

"An exquisite, uplifting read that shimmers with the light of a Hebridean summer" Steve Voake

"This Northern Sky is a beautiful, lyrical take on a family break-up. The brooding, claustrophobic atmosphere within Kate's family is contrasted with the vast openness of the sky and the pure air of summer in the far north. A gorgeous setting and a wonderful read." Marie-Louise Jensen

Why I wrote This Northern Sky
Some of the events in the novel are based on an amazing summer I spent in the Outer Hebrides when I was in my early twenties, on the islands of Harris and Lewis. We visited the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. One night we camped and partied at a beach and saw the Northern Lights. Last year I went back to the Western Isles to research life on a different island, and those experiences helped me write Kate's story. The island in This Northern Sky is an imaginative recreation, rather than a particular one.

This is a novel about change and loss, as well as about growing up. I wanted to explore the complex feelings when parents split up, or are on the verge of doing so, from the viewpoint of a teenager caught in the middle, who has very little power over what happens but who is inevitably deeply affected by it.

The setting of the novel is not simply the place where events happen: it is intimately connected to the themes of the story. When Kate first arrives on the island, she sees it as a bleak place, with nothing and no one of interest. Gradually, she learns about the island and the lives of the people who live there. As she begins to make new friends, she also starts to appreciate the raw beauty of the place, and see how a community of people can help and support each other. That's an important thing for her to learn at a time when her own family seems to be falling apart. I wanted to show how the natural world can be healing: I know that I am restored and helped by spending time outside, in wild, remote places where you are at the mercy of the weather and the sea and the rhythm of the tides. It gives you a different perspective on what's important. That's what I show happening to Kate, little by little. Although Kate can't stop her parents splitting up, she can find ways to take charge of her own life and find strength and hope in her relationships with other people.

This is a novel of key images and sounds: the story opens with an image of Earth viewed from space. The American astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan called it the 'pale blue dot': it's utterly beautiful and moving. It puts our lives into a different perspective and makes life on Earth seem infinitely precious.

Living on a remote island teaches you how dependent you are on the natural world of wind, tides and weather.  I couldn't get to the island for two days because of a storm.  The wind was a constant presence, sometimes a frightening one.  The sound of wind and waves wove through my head all day and all night. The huge expanse of northern sky made a deep impression. I wanted to put those things in my story, and the shipping forecast seemed one good way of doing this. The words are rhythmic and evocative, like poetry. That's why we have set them out on the page as if they are small poems.

On the island I learned about the importance of the machair as an eco-system, and about the conflicts of opinion concerning a massive new wind-farm project in the area. In a story which is all about change, the wind took on a new significance (there's a phrase people use, about the 'winds of change').  

Things you might like to do after reading This Northern Sky
Look at the photograph of the earth, taken from space (look up 'pale blue dot' online)

Listen to the shipping forecast on the radio. Read the poem by Carol Anne Duffy called Prayer and then read Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver, which is the poem Dad's thinking about in chapter five. There are other references to poems in the novel – Wordsworth's Solitary Reaper, and Seamus Heaney's poem Tollund Man.

Watch My Summer of Love on DVD

Find out more about climate change, alternative energy sources, wind and waves as sources of power. Nicola Davies' book Gaia Warriors (Walker) gives a constructive outlook on these issues.

Look at the RSPB website for information about birds. Start noticing the birds around you: even the house sparrow and the wren are disappearing at an alarming rate. It's a wake-up call to us humans.

If you are facing a difficult situation like your parents separating, you can find help on websites such as:
www.bigwhitewall.com
www.childline.org.uk
www.actionforchildren.org.uk

Visit a remote island, or find the wild places closer to home. Notice the small things: the wild flowers and birds and butterflies and other insects. Look at the stars and night sky. Discover for yourself what makes you feel happy or peaceful and connected to the planet.

Listen to Nick Drake's song, Northern Sky.

Discover for yourself the power of writing down your thoughts and feelings in a notebook.

About Bringing The Summer
It's the lazy end of summer, just before everything changes. Freya is sixteen: it is three years since her brother Joe drowned, and her life has moved on. But Freya's sense of what's missing from her life still affects the decisions and choices she makes: she is searching for the sense of 'family' she feels has gone forever.

An accident on a train has big repercussions. It starts Freya wondering about the girl involved, and it catapults her into the heart of another family, the Fieldings. She meets gorgeous, artistic Gabes. She seems to be falling in love: with a boy, and a place, and a family. But life gets complicated, inevitably. Gabes's older brother Theo is a magnetic dark presence, pulling Freya in another direction. He has a more worrying connection with the girl in the train accident.

  Freya is growing up, on the cusp of adulthood. She has to make some important decisions and discoveries about friendship, about love, and families.  She's asking the big questions: How do you live a life that has meaning and makes a difference? How do you make sure that you never take life and living and real friendship for granted?

Extra Notes
I first wrote about Freya in Breathing Underwater. That novel told the story of Freya finding out what really happened to her brother Joe 'last summer', and beginning to accept and understand the loss 'this summer'.

I carried on thinking about Freya after the novel was published, even while I was writing Drawing with Light.  My head was full of questions: what would it be like for Freya two years later, as she becomes the age her brother was when he died (16)? How would she feel now about her family, and being an 'only' child? I started thinking about the different ways people cope with the loss of someone they love so deeply, several years after the event. Some people seem to stay sad, or become bitter or depressed, but others find courage and embrace life and all it has to offer in a new way. Freya would do this, I was sure. She'd see how precious life is. She'd want her own life to have meaning and purpose.

Freya longs to be part of a bigger, happier family than her own. At sixteen, she's thinking about friendships, and boys, and making important choices of her own about the kind of person she is and the life she wants to lead. She makes some mistakes, too! All these aspects of growing-up fascinate me. And the truth is, these are the big, important questions we go on thinking about and re-evaluating as adults.

Gradually Freya' story began to emerge in my notebook, and I was ready to start work at my laptop. A real, horrible incident on a train journey from Cornwall became a key scene early in the novel and led me towards a new set of characters - the big family that Freya becomes involved with. I wondered at first whether the incident was too painful, but I decided that I needed to be truthful about these things. 'Growing-up' isn't always an easy time of life. And for some people life is unbearably hard, through no fault of their own. I hope I have balanced the pain with moments of fun, happiness and hope. Ultimately, Freya is a person full of life and love and promise. As Gramps says, 'She's like the swallows - Coming back to us each year. Bringing the summer with her.'

In Breathing Underwater, the setting for the story was St Ailla, based on the real island of St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly, where Freya spends her summers. This time, in Bringing the Summer, the story is set in the city where she lives the rest of the year with her parents: based on another real place although altered in my imagination. She visits Oxford, and the Gower coast in Wales. You can go to these places and recognise some of the details I have 'borrowed' for my story. I was a postgraduate student in Oxford and Theo's house is based on one I shared with a friend. All my fiction involves this mixture of the 'real' and the 'imagined'.
About Drawing With Light
I'm on the edge of something extraordinary, and I can hardly wait for it all to unfold...

Everything is changing in Emily's life. Her older sister Kat is just starting university; Dad and Cassy have bought an old house which will be their dream home one day... except that while it's being done up, they've got to live in a tiny caravan in the middle of a field. A throwaway comment starts Emily thinking about her real mother, who left when Emily was a baby. Who was she? What was she like? Why did she go? Over the years, she has become the unmentionable secret in Emily's family.

As Emily pieces together a truer, fuller picture of her mother, she also embarks on a new relationship ... she's falling in love with gorgeous dark-haired Seb. With his support, Emily can make the journey to find the mother she's never known, and discover some important things about herself.

This is a love story, about all different kinds of love. It's a story about growing up, and finding out who you really are.

Extra Notes
Before I start writing a novel, I find myself thinking and daydreaming and imagining the characters and places that I think may be part of the new story. I buy myself a new notebook  as part of my ritual of 'beginning'. I write pages of notes, feeling my way forwards by a kind of writerly instinct. Not everything will end up being part of the book. Sometimes seeds for  another story start to take root at the same time. I go off at tangents.  

The first scene I actually wrote was set in the French Pyrenees, when Emily comes face to face with her real mother for the first time. It was based on a real place, though changed in my imagination. I had a photograph of the view from the house on my desk. In my notebook I wrote what I realised: "It's the end of the story ... rather than the beginning!" Writing for me is a slow process of discovery: it sometimes feels as if the story already exists, and if I listen hard enough, pay enough attention, it will gradually come close enough for me to see exactly what it is. This is the first time I've written the last section of a book first.

I knew I wanted it to be a love story. "I want to write about the transformative power of love: the way it changes you and opens you up to the world". I drew on some of my own memories of first love when I was creating Seb, the boy in the story. Gradually I came to see that I was writing about lots of different kinds of love: the love between sisters, and the love between a man and a dog, and between friends, and the love that holds families together, not just parents but step parents too. And central to the story is the relationship between a mother and a daughter, and my big question: what could happen to make a mother abandon her own children? Could you ever forgive a mother who did that?

The title 'Drawing with Light' is a reference to the art of photography. Emily loves to take photos. She's studying  Photography for AS level. I 'borrowed' ideas and notes from my son's  A level coursework to help me write these parts of the story. He took some amazing photos of water and trees to help me.  There are other references to artists in the story. I first came across Emily Carr's paintings when I went to Vancouver for a writers' conference several years ago. I love the way things come together in my imagination in this way. You couldn't plan it! It just happens by a kind of magic. The pieces begin to come together and build the layers of story.

  While I was writing the novel, the title I had for it was 'Talking in the Dark', with all its associations with intimacy and secrets. It's what sisters do, and best friends, and lovers. I like the new title because it feels more up-lifting and hopeful, with that reference to 'light'.
About Breathing Underwater
Last summer, Freya's brother drowned. Everyone says it was a tragic accident. One year on, Freya has started asking questions. Was it an accident, really?

This summer, back on the island where the accident happened, Freya relives the events which led to Joe's death and tries to work out some answers. She is 'haunted' by the sense of him somehow still 'here'.  But life moves on. Freya is growing up fast, discovering new feelings and friendships. There's Izzy, who works at the campsite, and casts her own special kind of magic, and Danny, and Matt...

The story weaves two parallel stories, 'this summer' and 'last summer', as Freya unravels what happened to Joe, and moves forwards in her own life.  Some things are lost, other return...     And life and love are still vibrantly in the air...

Extra Notes
"The tiny island of St Agnes, the most south-westerly of the inhabited islands of Scilly, has a special place in my heart. It is the place which has inspired my new novel for teenagers, Breathing Underwater. Three summers ago, I began to write this story about loss and longing and love, with an island setting. 'My' island of St Ailla is very like St Agnes: I've borrowed some aspects and imagined and invented others. The sound of wind and water, the extraordinary brightness of the stars on a clear night, even some of the names of the beaches are 'real'.  Like my character, Freya, when I step off the little ferry onto the island jetty I feel as if I have arrived at my 'favourite place on earth'."

But for 14 –year-old Freya, as her story begins, nothing is that simple any more.  "This is an island full of memories now. A place of ghosts and secrets..."

* * * * *

This is the first time my sister has illustrated one of my books. I had the idea that Freya's sketches, from her blue notebook, could be part of the book, and Sue said she would like to do them ... you'll find them at the beginning of the 'this summer' chapters. I really love these drawings. They capture perfectly the feel of the story and the atmosphere of the island.
About Blue Moon
What do you do when you are fifteen and pregnant? Mia lives with her dad in a small village where everyone knows everybody else’s business. Her two older sisters have left home: Mum left years ago, when Mia was only six. She's much too young to have a baby, of course: everyone tells her so. Dad. Mum. Even her best friend, Becky. And her boyfriend Will is much too scared to be of any help.

Mia has to work out what she really wants, instead of drifting along as she usually does, and face the consequences of her choices. She runs away from home and meets people with a different life style, and another way of looking at the world. But what looks like freedom can be very deceptive. The two women on the canal boat have their own tragic stories, and a more sinister agenda. Mia leaves them and makes her own way... and helping her on her journey is the mysterious child, Lainey...

"A wonderfully written, emotional drama, with totally believable characters and many twists and turns."

Extra Notes
"I started writing Blue Moon while I was on a week's writing course at Ty Newydd with David Almond  and Kara May. It was as if the whole story was already there, just waiting for me to write it down. I saw a series of pictures, like scenes in a film, as Mia's story unfolded.

Meeting with Carol, the headteacher of a school in Bristol for teenage mums, made a huge difference to me. My title for the novel came as a result of the first conversation we had, where Carol told me how hard it was for young mums to hold onto their own dreams and ambitions once they had a child. "In a blue moon, maybe,” one girl said.  Another friend told me about the extract by W. H Auden which I use at the end of the book ( it ends with the words: ‘Once in a while, the moon turns blue'). It expressed perfectly the idea I had that although having a baby is hard, it doesn't have to be a tragedy, or the end of hope. After the book was published, I was invited to the wonderful Bristol school ( it's called The Meriton) to talk about my writing with the girls there, and help them write their own stories. I've been back every year since. I love that school, and the brilliant people there! You can look at their website to see all the amazing things they do. ( link?) There's a song called Blue Moon too, which we played at the launch party when my book was first published.

After I finished writing the book, I couldn't stop thinking about Mia.I knew there was much more to say about her, and Will, and the new baby.  I knew he was a boy, and I knew exactly what he looked like! So, I started writing again, picking up the story in the hospital where Mia has just given birth. I used some of my own experience of having a baby, though I had to remember that Mia was 16, not 30 ( I'd have been the older mum down the corridor taking 72 hours instead of 3!). The setting of the story is important: the village of Whitecross, the pebbly sea-shore which isn't proper sea-side, the house and garden where Mia has grown up but which she now really needs to escape. And Colleen turned up – again, really vivid in my mind. She has been well-loved by her own mother, and she knows instinctively how to ‘mother' her baby, even though things aren't straightforward for her, either. Her problem is poverty: not eating enough, getting ill.

I suppose I wanted to say something about the nature of mothering: how hard it is, how important, how life-changing, whether you are sixteen or thirty.

Like Mia, I kept day-dreaming happy endings for her and Will: romantic, but not very realistic. So I listened to the voice telling me it couldn't be like that, not really. So friendships turn out to be the real support for Mia and Kai, rather than romantic love. I loved writing Baby Blue.

  Because both Blue Moon and Baby Blue are written from Mia's viewpoint, I decided to write a short story about Will, to see things from his point of view as a teenage dad. It was first published in Short Stories published by Bliss and Waterstones. You can also read  'Will's Story' in a new collection  called  Turning the Corner a collection of post-millenium short stories  edited by David A. Hill and published by Cambridge University Press (2007)."
About Baby Blue
The story starts just after the birth of Mia's baby. Mia is 16, still living with Dad, although this relationship is under even more strain since Dad started going out with one of Mia's teachers! Mia's friends are just finishing their GCSEs and making plans for the summer. She feels more and more left out. Will starts going out with one of Mia's friends... But Mia has a new born baby to look after. He's completely dependent on her for everything. Mia has to work out what kind of mother she is going to be...

Reviews
"written with great tenderness and sensitivity" (The Bookseller)

"Wonderful writing, strong characters and a powerful and engaging topic: what it is really like to cope with a baby at 16" (Publishing News)
About Hunters Heart
Simon is fourteen; he's recently moved house with his single mum Nina, and little sister Ellie. He is fascinated with everything to do with weapons and extreme survival (SAS style), but Nina won't let him have the air-rifle or BB gun he really wants. He's not interested in girls. Not yet. Not really. Until he meets Leah, that is. Sixteen years old, bored, manipulative, Leah is waiting for her 'real life' to begin. While's she waiting, Leah decides to fill in time with Simon; he can be her 'summer project'. The story describes events over six hot weeks of summer. It is set on the far west coast of Cornwall, in a landscape where evidence of a harsh and sometimes violent past is etched into the land itself in the form of Neolithic burial chambers, ancient paths, disused mine shafts, war bunkers, abandoned farms. In the background, never out of ear-shot, is the sea itself, with its own dangers and history of drownings and disappearances. And then there's Mad Ed, a war-damaged veteran from the first Iraq war, who seems to be following Simon… Danger is closing in... "A gripping and dark portrayal of first love from a teenage boy's viewpoint"

"Murder, jealousy, first love, guilt, betrayal, they are all here in this urgently written coming of age story set on a Cornish coast as rugged as the giant-sized emotions swirling around it." ( 'Books for Keeps')

Notes from Julia's journal, while writing Hunter's Heart:
"I'm exploring what society does to boys – the kind of images they are bombarded with – the language of computer games, films, TV; the real news images of war, - the serious, deadly business of being male. Simon's obsession with death and killing things, arming himself with weapons, is seen in this context. He's just a normal boy. Fear is big. You make yourself feel safer by arming yourself. The fear mustn't be talked about.

For boys, once they leave childhood behind, sex is the only opportunity for warmth, closeness, intimate, soft contact with another human being. Or at least, that seems to be what's on offer."

"It's the story of a young man growing up, of his estrangement from his mother/childhood; of his clumsy attempts to salvage closeness through his encounters with a girl - who betrays him."

My first (and still favourite) title for this story was The Coffin Path. I walked along the actual path some years before I wrote my book (it's also known as the Field Path) between St Ives and Zennor, in Cornwall. It's called the Coffin Path because it's the route that dead people were carried in their coffins from the farm houses to their burial place in the churchyard. But my lovely editor at Puffin thought it gave the wrong feeling about the book, making it sound too much like a horror novel, which it isn't. Perhaps Hunter's Heart fits better: Simon is a ‘hunter' - into his survival stuff - and the story is about matters of the heart ( but not in a slushy romantic way). There's a famous novel by Carson McCullers called The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and I like the echo of that in my title, even if no one else notices! But I still think The Coffin Path is a better and more memorable title!

Books for younger readers

About Seal Island
"Beautifully written, it explores friendship and families, the wonder of nature and the magic in the everyday" (The Bookseller)

Grace is staying with Granny in her house right at the edge of the big sandy beach on an island. It's the first time she's stayed without Mum and Dad, little brother Kit and the baby twins. She's very excited. On the island she can run free, play on the sand, look in rock pools,  ride a bike, watch seals and have all sorts of adventures. Grace makes friends with a local boy called Col whose dad is a fisherman. One night, there's a storm, and Grace finds a baby seal washed up on the beach. Col isn't around to help - his dad's fishing boat has gone missing in the storm - so it's all up to Grace. Can she save the seal pup? Will Col's dad come safely home?

Extra Notes
This story is about family and friendships and having adventures outside in a real wild place.  I travelled to some real islands in the Outer and Inner Hebrides to help me write my story.  I watched and took photos of real wild seals, I talked to people and read Natural History books about seals, and I read some of the old stories about Selkies - which are half-person and half-seal. Granny tells one of these stories to Grace. I drew a map to show where things happen on Seal Island, which you can find at the beginning of the book. I've always loved maps in stories.

I wanted my story to be true to life, realistic about the natural world and the cycle of life and death. Grace's Grandpa died a year ago, and she is still sad and missing him. She thinks about him. Granny does too. This is all part of the natural rhythm of life. The story takes place in the summer, and celebrates all the lovely aspects of being outside on a beach in the long summer days, as well as the sense of a community of people working together and helping each other.

Paul Howard has drawn beautiful pictures to illustrate 'Seal Island'.

Things to do after reading the story:
  1. Go to a sandy beach and run, dance, do cartwheels
  2. Beach comb - see what the tide has washed up. Collect shells and make a necklace. Find a piece of driftwood and make a boat
  3. Look in rockpools - keep very still and quiet so you can watch the creatures in their natural habitat without disturbing them
  4. Learn the names of some of the sea birds
  5. Find out more about seals, and other wild animals
About Sylvie and Star
One puppy with the wild in his eyes
One girl longing to care for him
Sylvie lives in London. She can't wait for the holidays, so she can get back to her grandparents' farm in Italy. Their dog, Bella, is going to have puppies and Sylvie is determined to be there when they are born. Perhaps her mum and dad will even let her keep one?

There is just one puppy in the end - a tiny, furry bundle that Sylvie names Star. It soon becomes clear to everyone that there is something extra special about him - something no one was expecting.

Extra Notes
The seeds of this story were sown one summer, when I was on holiday in Tuscany, northern Italy, staying on a farm in the area called the Garfagnana, between the Appenine mountains and the Apuan Alps in the upper valley of the river Serchio. Here, I heard a true story about the old farm dog, and her puppy, and the wild wolves living in the mountains...

The story stayed in my head for several years, and gradually it grew and changed into Sylvie's story. Being able to ‘see' the farm and the mountains so clearly helped me to write these parts of the story. As always, I mix up ‘real' places, animals and people with fictional ones, created by my own imagination. The bookshop where Sylvie's father works is partly based on a real, gorgeous bookshop I know, mixed with the memory of the chaotic but brilliant bookshop we regularly visited when I was a child. I loved putting the bookshop in my story. The way Sylvie feels when she reads a book (safe, and hidden) is how I felt as a child and still do even though I'm grown up. It's as if you step into another world. I hope that readers will feel as if they are stepping into Sylvie's world when they start reading my book.

As part of my research for the story, I visited the UK Wolf Conservation Trust on one of their open days, to watch and listen to real wolves. I wanted to see exactly how they moved, so I could capture that in my story. I read books about wolves and looked at photographs.  I looked at the website images of the wolf pups that had recently been born at the Trust, to see how they grew and developed week by week. You can find out more about wolves at their website: www.ukwolf.org

The brilliant illustrator, Paul Howard, looked at some of these photos too, when he was drawing his amazing pictures for the book.
About Tillys Moonlight Fox
A secret garden...
A magical friend...

The fox called again. Its eerie cry echoed into the night. The sound wove in and out of the night garden, and into Tilly's dreams. When Tilly moves to a big, old house with her mum and dad, she can’t wait to start exploring. There, deep in the garden, she finds a mysterious hidden gate...

Led by a wild fox, Tilly discovers the magical secret that lies beyond the gate and nothing is ever quite the same again.

"Resonating with a timeless magical feel, and with echoes of classics like Tom’s Midnight Garden, Green writes of family secrets and wild foxes in this outstanding novel for younger readers" (Fiona Noble, The Bookseller  - Picks of the Month, June 2012)

Extra Notes
I've wanted to write this story for a long time. I first thought about TILLY when I was sitting in central park in New York, watching children ride on animals on the carousel... I saw the story in my mind as a series of pictures and straight away I took out my notebook and wrote down a description of each 'picture' (there were twelve, to begin with).  I knew it was too long a story to be a picture book, and that Tilly was about 10 years old, and it would be a chapter book.  

Tilly is lonely because they have just moved house, away from her friends, and her mum is ill. The story is partly about those things - feeling worried about your mum, and wanting a friend to play with, and the power of your imagination. I remembered some things from my own childhood - like building a den, and playing with a doll's house, and the idea of a secret garden. Two of my favourite books were  - and still are - The Secret Garden and Tom's Midnight Garden. But Tilly is very much a girl living now, in 2012.

The soft toy fox that Tilly still loves (Little Fox) is based on a toy fox that one of my children had when he was little. The real fox is based on the wild foxes I see near my house, and the garden is a secret place from when I was a child. I think wild, overgrown gardens are magical places: anything can happen there... and the natural world is full of its own special secrets.

I always notice the moon, like Tilly. A full moon makes me feel as if something amazing is about to happen! Even if you don't have a garden, you can still look out for the moon in the sky. And everyone has an imagination... and dreams.

One of the many very lovely things about working on this story was seeing it come to life in the imagination of another person - the illustrator Paul Howard. He drew such perfect illustrations, in soft pencil and charcoal - it was as if he knew already exactly what TILLY looked like. My favourite drawing of all shows Tilly and the fox under the full moon.
About Beowulf
The King of Denmark is in trouble. His people are living in terror of a monster that no one can kill. So the brave warrior Beowulf takes up the challenge. He sets sail with fourteen men and arrives at the king's hall. That night, he slays the monster in a bloody battle, but now his problems have just begun...

Beowulf the Brave is a modern re-telling of the classic Anglo-Saxon legend.
About Sephy's Story
Sephy hears the thunder of horses' hooves. The next moment she is snatched from the sunny fields where she is playing, and taken deep underground to a dark cave. She has become prisoner of Pluto, king of the underworld, who wants her to live with him forever... How can she escape?

(A modern re-telling of the classic Greek myth of Persephone)
About Taking Flight
Luke loves visiting his grandad and helping out with the pigeons. But Grandad gets sick and needs more than Luke's help. When he goes into hospital, events take a turn for the worse and suddenly Luke has to grow up very fast...

A story about love, loss and friendship.
About Over The Edge
Barney's life is far from easy as he tries to settle in to his new school and his new house. It's hard having no friends. Slowly he feels himself slipping over the edge. Then something happens that changes everything...

Short Stories

'Make Friends, Make Friends, Never Never Break Friends' in You're the Best! Stories about friendship Selected by Belinda Hollyer (Kingfisher, 2006)

'One More Step' in My Kind of School ed. T. Bradman ( A & C Black, 2008)

'Will's Story' in Short Stories (Bliss & Waterstones) and also in Turning the Corner: a collection of post-millenium short stories edited by David. A. Hill (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

'Reindeer Girl' in Winter Tales, A Feast of Christmas Animal Stories (Stripes, 2008)