About me

About Me_Helen

I was born and grew up in a small town called Weymouth, on the south coast of England. My family was from Wales, and I inherited from them a love of stories. As a child, I spent most of my time either reading or writing. From an early age I started making books (and even a monthly magazine for witches) with my own stories and pictures in them. I took this very seriously, and was quite determined that I would be an author when I grew up.

All I needed to keep me happy was a pile of books to read (I was a regular visitor to our local library), some blank paper, a pencil and some felt tip pens that hadn’t run out.

 

Here are some of the books I made between the ages of about 6 and 11:

 

About Me_Books

In the end, I didn’t become an author – at least, not straight away. I went to Newcastle University in the north of England to study French and Spanish, and in between being a student there I spent time in France, Spain and Cuba, where I learned to dance salsa and once queued for 4 hours for an ice-cream. After graduating, I trained as a secondary school teacher and headed out to Mexico City with an open ticket and no job. Luckily, I found a job teaching French in an International school, and I ended up staying in Mexico for four years, before returning to the UK to do a Masters in Film and Television Production at Bristol University. After a lot of fun helping young people in Bristol make films (but not making much money), I returned to teaching for a few years, working with refugees and asylum seekers and then teaching Spanish at the University of the West of England.

During this time, I met Thomas Docherty, who had recently started illustrating his own books. It was Tom who encouraged me to start writing stories again, and we co-wrote the book Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure (Templar, 2010). In the summer of 2011 I wrote my first ever rhyming story, The Snatchabook  (Alison Green Books, 2013).

Tom and I got married in 2008 and we now live in Swansea, Wales, with our two daughters and a cat called Cadi.

Looking back, I’m glad that I ended up learning languages, living abroad and working for many years as a teacher… before I finally became an author!

Nowadays, I love going into schools to tell my stories to children and inspire them to write stories of their own. Working with Thomas Docherty through Storyopolis, I’ve helped lots of children in Swansea create their very own Book in a Day. You can read some of their fantastic stories by following this link to my Storyopolis page.

Here are some of the things I like best, in no particular order:

  • The smell of gorse by the sea (if you’ve never smelled gorse, it’s a bit like coconut mixed with honey)gorse by the sea

  • Sorbets (blackcurrant, cherry, plum, raspberry, mango; any flavour really…)plum sorbet

  • Going for long walks in the country or by the sea (especially if they end with a sorbet)

  • Swimming in the sea or in lakes – but only in the summer!

  • Visiting castles (we have lots in Wales). Here is one of our favourites, Dinefwr:Castle-Dinefwr

  • Reading stories to our two daughters – some of our favourites are The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Tom’s Midnight Garden, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and the Ramona books

  • Learning new languages – I’ve been learning Welsh for the last few years, with a bit of help from our girls

  • Dancing (mostly in the kitchen these days)

  • Playing with Cadi (her favourite game is trying to catch the reflection of a watch face on the wall)

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