I was born in Glasgow, Scotland—a country famous for its heather dappled mountains, lochs, tartans, thistles, shaggy Highland cattle, sheep, bagpipes, castles, haggis, and of course, a veritable treasure chest of stories.
My gentle Irish father also loved to feed me his own tales of fairies, leprechauns, and banshees. Every summer, my two big brothers and I would visit my grandparents’ farm in Ireland, where we whiled away the days with hay-rides, turf-rides, milking cows, shearing sheep, feeding pet lambs, and organizing frog races.
My passion for stories stemmed from listening to them: crouched in front of the radio for the BBC children’s hour, or huddled before a turf fire in Ireland as the aunts and uncles talked in low, hushed voices, or walking hand in hand with my dad down a leafy lane, as he whispered secrets to me about mermaids and banshees. Before I could write words, or read them, I knew that they were magic, because of the music they made.
After I learned to read, I devoured all the fairy tales I could find. At school my favorite subjects were English and History and Drama. At Edinburgh University, I studied History. I was never very good at remembering all the dates, because that involved numbers, but I had no trouble remembering the people and the events, because that involved stories. As an elementary teacher, I loved teaching language and history and drama. In my classroom I always made plenty of time for reading stories aloud to my students, no matter what age they were.
After moving to the States in 1990 with my husband, an American, and my two daughters, one born in Scotland, the other in England, I was extremely homesick. Writing helped to soothe the hurt in my heart, and soon I was sending off my stories to publishers.
After many, many, years, and many, many rejections, I finally began to experience a few small successes, and in October 2003, my first children’s picture book was published by Child and Family Press.
When I’m not writing my own stories, I enjoy telling stories to anyone who will listen. For over twelve years I was a narrator of books on tape for the Colorado Talking Book Library, and for the past 20 years I have been fortunate to have a wonderful audience of children at two inner city elementary schools, where I visit once a month and read folktales and fairytales from around the world to grades K-6.
For the past ten years, my family and I have been involved with Makumbi Children’s Home in Zimbabwe, Africa – a home for AIDS orphans. The pandemic of AIDS has left more than 600,00 orphans in Zimbabwe. Makumbi is home to about 90 children, ranging in age from a few weeks to eighteen years of age. The proceeds from my book, The Giant King, go directly to Makumbi Children’s Home through the Sustainable Living Foundation, run by the Clark Family who run an Annual Run for Zimbabwe Orphans. Read more at http://www.zimbabweparaguay.net/