A LETTER FROM THE AUTHOR
Many of you have written to me, children and parents and teachers, and I have been very grateful for your letters. However, since there are some questions which are asked over and over by all of you, I thought it would be a good idea to set out the answers here, especially as some of you forget to give me your address so that I am unable to answer you personally. Here, then, are the most frequently asked questions and my best efforts at answers.
Q. How old were you when you first started to write?
A. I wrote my first story when I was seven and a half. I wrote it at school as an entry to a story and painting competition organized by the R.S.P.A. and I won the story prize. The story was about rabbits but was not soppy. It was a conversation between a caged pet rabbit and a wild rabbit staring in at him through wire netting. They discussed their lives and whether it was better to be safe and well fed or to be free. I chose to write the story as a conversation because I had just learned to use conversation marks and was pretty pleased with myself because of it. I didn’t write my second story until about twenty years later. The painting prize in that competition was won by Mary Cooke who painted a robin which I thought was brilliant. I hope that, wherever she is, she is still painting.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
A. Most of my stories are pretty much true and are memories of my childhood though, occasionally, I put in something that happened to my son when he was small. For example, the story of Josie Smith running away from home after making a mess painting her blackboard is based on something that happened to him, not me. I’m sure I wouldn’t have stood in it. Stealing flowers, though, that was definitely me. I admit that. Parents who write to me often say, ‘How can you possibly remember all those things?’ I answer, ‘How can you possibly forget them?’
Q. Have you any children or pets?
A. I have one grown-up son who used to spill paint and two cats. Daisy is black and white with yellow eyes. She was born into a family of wild cats living on the city roofs. She fell off and moved in with me. Sloppy is a great big ginger cat who was neglected and very hungry and also moved in with me. I have a horse called Daluc del Sinis, Lukie to his friends. He is a bay (brown with black mane and tail) and is very handsome and affectionate.
Thank you for reading my books. Remember that when you buy a Josie Smith book, the author’s share of the money goes to Afghan refugee children who need text books and exercise books for school. When you buy The Enchanted Horse, the author’s money goes to The Brooke Hospital for Animals. They look after the working horses, mules and donkeys of the world’s poorest people.
With my best wishes,