As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I had a vague idea that I wanted to be a journalist, though I don’t think I had any idea how to go about it. I think that it never occurred to me that I could write books and newspaper articles seemed like a manageable amount of writing. When I went to high school, I completely forgot about that ambition and somehow got caught up in studying maths and science.
What other jobs have you had? I was a laboratory technician for about 12 years. I also worked as a receptionist for a Tradition Chinese Medicine practitioner. I’ve worked the Chinese medicine into my books (the Dragonkeeper series), but I haven’t yet managed to work the laboratory work into a novel. There’s still time.
What situations influenced you to start writing? It was my own idea to stop working in laboratories and do something creative. I didn’t know what creative pursuit I wanted to follow though. It took me a while to work out that I wanted to be a children’s author. Having a break from work after my daughter was born gave me the opportunity to do an Arts degree and major in writing (and Mandarin). My husband supported and encouraged me in what seemed like a pretty left-field career change.
What was the best thing about writing this book? As with all books, the best part is when you finish writing it! I do like learning about subjects that I don’t know much about, and that was the case with this book.
What was the most interesting fact you discovered when writing this book? There were so many interesting facts. I think the one that surprised me most was the way women had to fight to be allowed to compete, and how long it took for them to gain equality in the Games.
What do you love most about the Olympics? I have to confess I am not a sporty person. It is the international collaboration aspect of the Games that I like the most. I really do believe that the Olympics help international relations, and give everyone a chance to see people from other nations, other cultures trying to do their best.
What’s the best part of your job? I like being my own boss and being able to work at home. It gives me flexibility. It is also the hardest part of my job. I have deadlines to meet, and there is no one to make me do the work but me. So it is a big responsibility to keep doing it. If I do have a day off, I have to make it up some other time.
Which 5 people would you like to have over for dinner? I wouldn’t. I find cooking for guests stressful, and just the thought of having five (presumably) unrelated people to feed and entertain makes me break out in a nervous rash.
Do you collect anything? I collect dragons and books on dragons. I also collect ancestors and their stories — I’m a family historian.
What are you working on next? I’m writing a non-fiction book about climate change.
Read my review of ‘The Games; the Extraordinary History of the Modern Olympic Games’ here.