Some sharks are no bigger than a chocolate bar, some have built-in fairy lights, and most wouldn't go near a human, even if you were wearing a sign saying "dinner"! So, if you thought all sharks were giant man-eating killers, you're in for a surprise.
I'm a zoologist by training and by passion - I've been lucky enough to see all sorts of animals in all sorts of places - Sperm whales off Dominica, gibbons in NE India, orang utans and hornbills and proboscis monkeys in Borneo (and that was just last year). But I love the ravens and blackbirds, barn owls and badgers in my own patch in S Wales. All my books are about the natural world in some way. I want my readers to feel the same fizz of excitement about animals that I do.
I used to have a small holding with sheep and chickens and the World's Daftest Dog, Flint. Sometimes, whilst I was waiting for the last kids to filter into the school hall on school visits, I'd tell the ones in the front row stories about the things that happened on my little 'farm'- escaping sheep, cockerels that sat on eggs - and they laughed. And that's how the Silver Street Farm books were born. I giggled myself silly writing them, and I think my readers laugh too. I love making people laugh.
I also rather enjoy making my readers cry. You know you've scored a writing goal if someone's wiping their eyes when you read a book to them. My novels A Girl Called Dog and Rubbish Town Hero and the new one coming soon Whale Boy, all have tear jerking moments. It's not that I like to torture my readers its just that even quite little children sometimes have horrible things happen to them, and I want to be truthful about that in the stories I write. So there are dark and scary things in my novels, but also lots of fun although can't promise that my endings are 'and they all lived happily ever after'.
Last year 2012 I wrote six books. I'm rather proud of myself! So there's lots of new things coming in 2013. The Lion Who Stole My arm, based on a true story about man eating lions, from Mozambique, one about village- trampling elephants called the Elephant Road, also based on a true story. And a very special picture book called The Promise, about how one heart changing can change the world. I'll be doing lots of events this year - starting with the Imagine Festival at the South Bank in February and including a tour of schools in Carthage and New York in the US and the Hay Festival and May.
One of the big perks of my job is working with fantastic illustrators that make my words come alive. Mark Hearld did a stunning job with A First Book of Nature and he's working on another one of mine now. Emily Sutton's made micro life sparkle with her illustrations of my book Tiny, out soon. And Laura Carlin's pictures for The Promise are amazing.
When I'm not writing, I sing. Singing makes me super happy. Not sure how happy it makes the people who come to hear me! Oh yeah and I work in schools, meeting readers and having a lovely time - the best perk of all of being a children's writer is working with children.