I grew up on a windy sheep farm in Devon. It was a wonderful place to run around in fields and woods with plenty of time and space to develop my imagination. I am dyslexic and found reading and writing very hard. It was tricky to get my ideas down on paper, yet I was full of stories. That’s when I found out that sheep are good listeners. I told them my stories out loud. Horses, chickens and dogs are good listeners too – and gateposts and trees and ferrets and chairs – anyone or anything that I could find! Even my brother listened sometimes. Through talking, my stories began to come to life. Little by little I shaped them, improved them, remembered them and; finally, wrote them down.
I still talk out loud sometimes when I write now. If I am teaching, I encourage other writers to do the same. I know it is not always possible – in a classroom or a library, for instance. But if you are somewhere alone, don’t be shy. It is wonderful to hear how your words sound – especially if you are writing dialogue, then the characters speak to you.
Now I live in London with my family, my dog and two cats. I am often hurrying, bustling around the busy city but, under my breath, I am whispering stories to the buses and the lampposts, trying out new ideas.
I love these sheep (brilliantly drawn by Jill Newton for my AESOP’S AWESOME RHYMES series). They look like they might be listening to a story right now.