I like to tell people that I ‘accidentally wrote a novel while I was on maternity leave’. This is true — while I was on extended leave after the arrival of our second daughter and my mind was freer from the routine of public service work, I started Book One of The Ambitious Mage. The day before, my good friend Marg had visited with her newborn baby, and had asked me if there was anything I hadn’t yet done that I always wanted to do. Without thinking, I replied: ‘Write a book.’ After some discussion we narrowed this down to heroic fantasy, and Marg advised that as an English teacher she had heard lots of authors speak about their writing and the key thing seemed to be to ‘just start’. I found this unbelievable given the length that most fantasy series run to! Surely the authors knew where they were going?
That night I had a vivid dream that I was a Pegasus foal waiting to be born. (Yes, you read that right!) I decided this could be the opening to a story and when Mara was asleep, I snuck into my home study and drafted the first four pages. I was gone for so long my husband Andrew said he thought I’d gone out. I had: to worlds called Terralis and Ossilis. Once I’d drafted a hundred pages, I decided I’d better get serious. I joined the just-established ACT Writers Centre in 1995 and with great glee went to numerous workshops, as well as enrolling in adult education creative writing classes. I found that I had a lot to learn, but that I had also instinctively done some things right. I was hooked, I loved writing. The list of books that follows speaks for itself. I had early success with small, independent publishers, which encouraged me to keep going.