So much in life is about balance. I was born in Essex in 1946: a time of post-war austerity and rationing; it was also the era during which young children received free National Heath Service orange juice.
There were certainly downsides to 1950s England, in which I grew up. That said, some of the significant improvements since then affect adults, rather than children - notably relaxations in censorship and in the control of sexual behaviour. On the minus side for a child, I might have been caned at school, although I never was. Also, the ordinary English diet in the 1950s was very bland. Chinese and Indian food had yet to reach the English provinces - let alone Thai cuisine. But there were pluses, even in the realm of diet: there were no burgers, trans-fats, horrible fried chicken. Chicken was a luxury that an ordinary family might eat once or twice a year, and I think it was better thus.
On balance, 1950s England was a good time and place to be a child. In fact, I feel sorry for twenty-first century children. Our parents sent us out to play, allowing us extraordinary freedom. And there were such places to play - wasteland of kinds one no longer sees. There were, of course, bomb sites - but I think that my favourite playground had been used, in some way, by the British military, and then abandoned. In the 1960s, it became neat, very dull, playing fields. By contrast, in the 1950s, it was a jungle. Another area of wasteland, and one that crops up in my fiction, were the brickfields: abandoned clay workings. Why they had been abandoned, I don't know. The local brick industry seemed to have died, although the clay was clearly not exhausted, and there was obviously a continuing demand for bricks. Perhaps the owners were waiting until the time was ripe to sell the land for 'development'. During the 1960s, the former brickfields were covered with housing.
My favourite book, as a child, was Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In writing this, I'm irresistibly reminded of the Caterpillar's question, and Alice's answers:
"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied rather shyly, "I - I hardly know, Sir, just at present - at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."
"What do you mean by that?" said the Caterpillar, sternly. "Explain yourself!"
"I ca'n't explain myself, I'm afraid," said Alice, "because I'm not myself, you see."
Let us say that I am one of the goddess' little jokes, someone with a mismatch between brain sex and body sex. When I read fiction, watch films or television drama, my identification will be with a woman or girl. That is not to say that my focus will be on the most girly character. Buffy and Xena are amongst my favourites. I delight in The L Word, and other lesbian dramas. All of this, I am sure, has left distinct footprints on my fiction.
In fact, I don't think that I understand men very well - which doubtless accounts for my female narrators, and shortage of male characters.
In common with the experience of Jane Brewster, my first narrator, the places where I grew up have vanished. I am an exile, without any possibility of returning home. Perhaps the lingering sadness this generates breathes a sigh through my novels.
In spite of adult themes in my work, my childhood experiences, and children's books, form powerful influences. My mud pie hurling little girls may be pale reflections of Evadne Price's immortal Jane Turpin. The ghost of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books will surely be visible in the third Warriors of Love volume and (especially Winter Holiday) in the seventh. Lewis Carroll's influence appears in many places.
As to philosophy, amongst the ideas at the root of my writings is a version of phenomenology. It may be summarised thus: Although there is an objective reality, it is essentially unknowable; we cannot entirely escape perceiving the world through the filters of interpretation. This is one of the reasons the Warriors of Love novels will all be written in the first person, each volume representing that individual's interpreted world.
Freedom of thought is important to me. In general, I mistrust movements whose names end in ism. An exception is feminism, which is nothing if not plural. Feminism, I trust and hope, will traced in my work - but there are many feminisms, some of which embrace ideas with which I strongly disagree.
I am for pluralism and for celebrating the world, which is a wonderful place. It seems to me that a point on which all of the world's 'great' religions have gone seriously astray is to undervalue the physical. Let us celebrate the goddess' bounty. I think, and hope, that my positive outlook permeates my fiction.