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My book ‘PRIVATE-KEEP OUT!’ is now published as a PENGUIN VINTAGE CHILDREN’S CLASSIC.This book was first published in 1978 by Heinemann. I wanted to capture the spirit and humour of the place where I grew up as a child. This book has been called ‘The funniest children’s book ever written’ by Lucy Mangan, a Guardian columnist.
Growing older and having survived cancer at 40, a long time ago, certainly focuses the mind on the future and I was very aware of this when I wrote the poem FUTURE TENSE. I’ve always loved writing and still remember the excitement of the first longer piece of work I did. It was very experimental and I was certain it wouldn’t get published. It probably wouldn’t have but one of the small magazines, who did such great work for new writers, took that piece and many others. But that wasn’t all they did. With a generous kindness, they would often point out where I could improve.
My first book was a picture book, MATTHEW AND HIS MAGIC KITE, but after that, I started wanting to capture the humour and interest of where I lived, so PRIVATE-KEEP OUT came next followed by KNOCK AND WAIT and ONE WAY ONLY. They’re not biographies because all I wanted to do was to catch the spirit of those times.
It would be good if everyone wrote an account of their lives so their times are not lost. So many valuable histories unwritten and unread.
When I was a girl, I loved the American writer, BETTY MACDONALD, with her very funny accounts of her family and her life in the 1940’s. But NORMAN MAILER’s, ‘THE NAKED AND THE DEAD’ opened a new world of writing to me when I stumbled across it in the subscription library I belonged to at fifteen. ERNEST HEMINGWAY’s ‘CHRISTMAS IN PARIS 1923’, was so sublime and beautiful it was a torch for me, and the Toronto Star Weekly must have published it hardly believing their luck. I wonder if there still is a Toronto Star Weekly?
I have just received copies of THE PUFFIN BOOK OF GHOSTS AND GHOULS in which my story SPRING-HEELED JACK appears. I wrote this story about 30years ago and it’s been published many times since. I love the illustration by Nick Harris, which accompanies my story. ISBN : 978-0-241-35302-8