I always wanted to be a writer.
I had an older cousin who was a hairdresser, and when adults asked me what I wanted to be 'when I grew up', I used to say, 'A hairdresser,' because that was considered a good answer, and shut them up.
I never wanted to be a hairdresser.
From the age of about 7, when my Dad gave me The Jungle Books and The Just-So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, I wanted to be a writer.
But I came from a family of Black Country factory workers, none of whom - at that time - had ever gone to University, or ever written a book.
But I read a lot - I read everything - children's books, adult books, newspapers, comics, magazines, sauce bottles, cornflake packets, adverts, graffitti my mother didn't want me to read... That's how you learn to write. At 14, I realised that, to be a writer, I only had to be good enough. There were no college courses (at that time) to be passed, no exams to pass. So, at 14, I started to read critically - my own work, and that of others. How was this writer getting that effect? Why did I find this writing laughable and unconvincing? Why had this story of mine failed?
If I could figure out the answers to these questions, I could improve.
At 15, and at 16, I entered the Children's Writing Competition, and won one of the three 'special' prizes in that age-group. This spurred me on to write my first book, The Devil's Piper. Acting on advice from a judge in the competition - the poet, Michael Baldwin - I sent the book to the Literary Agency, A M Heath, where it was taken on by Osyth Leeston.
She sent it to Faber, where the children's editor was Phyllis Hunt, who said that if I could rewrite the book to a higher standard, Faber would publish it. I abandoned my education and rewrote it. Faber published it - but because I was only 16, my father had to sign the contract.
Since then I've written over 63 books, for all ages, from Nursery age to Young Adult - and my YA books, such as The Sterkarm Handshake, are read by many adults.
I won the Carnegie Medal, the most prestigious award a writer for young readers can win in the UK, for my book, The Ghost Drum.
For my 'cross-over novel' The Sterkarm Handshake, I won the Guardian Fiction Prize. Both these books are under film option as I write.
I began self-publishing in 2011, and am a founder member of the Authors Electric Blog.
My own blog is the Nennius Blog, named after the medieval monk who said that, in his writings, he had 'made a heap of all he had found.' I occasionally contribute to the Awfully Big Blog Adventure, and The History Girls.
I am a member of the Scattered Authors Society (affectionately known by its members as 'the other SAS'), as well as the Society of Authors.
I often work for the Royal Literary Fund, that wonderful organisation which does so much to help writers.