About Me

When I was little, I spent hours snuggled up in my mum’s big double bed, reading stories. As soon as she told me that there were people whose job it was to write those stories, I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.

I came to the English language late. My mother tongue is German and I lived in Germany for the first two years of my life. I then moved to the island of Corsica where I learned to speak French, and finally, aged nearly five, I moved to Oxford in England. When I realised that none of the little girls in my elementary school had a clue what I was saying, I knew that I had to learn English – and fast! I think that coming to English late made me love it even more and speaking different languages gives me a deeper and richer understanding of the many ways in which human stories can be expressed.

4 years old. Sitting in a tree in Corsica. Three things I knew I loved: stories, being outside & trees.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write, but it took me a while to pluck up the courage to send my writing out into the world and to consider myself a ‘proper writer.’

I trained to teach High School English and worked in beautiful boarding schools around the UK. I still dream of writing a boarding school novel – watch this space! My time as a teacher did inspire my YA novels, though, and I still believe that this is one of the most interesting stages of life to write about.

When I met my husband, he convinced me to take the plunge and to see whether I could make that little girl’s dream come true and become a published writer. I did an MA in creative writing, took a sabbatical from teaching, wrote my heart out, learned about the process of getting an agent and a publisher and, after a rollercoaster of ups and downs and joys and heartbreak, landed my first publishing deal.

I now write books for both adults and young adults. My latest novel, The Children’s Secret, is set in New Hampshire, is published under my pseudonym, Nina Monroe.

I live in a pretty light blue house in Concord, New Hampshire, with my husband, our three children and four cats.

10 Things

I’d Like My Readers to Know About Me

I love the low frequency hum of coffee shops: it helps me to get into the writing zone. Writing can be a lonely business at times, so having people around me reminds me that I’m still part of the world. I’ve also had some of my best writing ideas from people-watching in coffee shops and I’ve lost track of the wonderful friends I’ve made sitting their writing, day in, day out. My favourite coffee shops of all are those in bookstores. There’s nothing lovelier than sitting with a delicious latte, a stack of notebooks, my laptop – and a whole store of gorgeous books to inspire me.

I was born in Germany, lived in France and moved to Oxford, England, when I was five – and learnt the respective languages of those countries as I went. At first I was hugely resistant to learning English: there are recordings of me bashing the kitchen table and refusing to speak ‘this silly language.’ But very soon, I fell in love with English, its magical words, its quirkiness and its amazing stories. And now, of course, writing in English is my life’s work and my greatest joy.

I’m now having to learn another language: American English! My husband and I have always loved New England – this is where we spent our honey moon. It was a dream come true when we had the chance to move here, though adapting to American life hasn’t been without its challenges. I still feel very English but exploring a whole new continent and its people is hugely stimulating to me as a writer.

I get SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in reverse. I love the snow, the cold and most of all, the rain – I find bright sunshine and heat oppressive. I’d rather be hibernating in the summer!

I have a suspicion that I was a polar bear in a past life.

Nothing feels as good to me as breathing in cool, fresh air. Which is why I got married in December, why I love New England winters and why I miss the rain in England too.

I’ve spent my life struggling to work out whether I’m an extrovert or an introvert and recently found out that I can be – and probably am – both. I imagine this is true for many artists. Being with people energises me and fills my creative well. I love to meet new people, especially. But I tire easily and need periods of solitude and retreat. I love people and I love being alone and my happy place is the perfect – and rarely attainable – balance between the two.

Most of my novels, both for adults and Young Adults, have at least one animal character. I’m a great animal lover and a vegetarian. As George Bernard Shaw said: ‘Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.’ I believe that animals sense more of the world than we do as human beings – that they have access to whole other planes of existence too. I love that.

A dear writing friend who has now passed gave me a small, white candle -holder with the etching of a cat on the front. Ever since then I’ve lit a tea light in this holder every time I sit down to write. It’s a ritual, a comfort and an offering to the gods of the imagination. It also makes me think of all the writers who have gone before me, who have paved the way with their beautiful stories and what an incredible tradition that is to be part of.

Which explains why we currently have three kitties (Rosie, Bennie, Millie and Valentine). It’s not the most sensible or economic or sustainable of methods to combat sadness, but it’s a last resort that almost always works. Whenever I leave the house for too long and go MIA, my husband knows I might be coming home with a feline…

One in which I’ve written something that feels true to my soul. Read something that has made that same soul sing and feel heard and seen and delighted. Walked under trees and a blue sky. Stretched a little and reconnected with my body. Found a pocket of stillness to calm my mind. And snuggled my kids, my four kitties – and, of course, my long-suffering husband. That’s it. Write. Read. Walk. Yoga. Meditate. Love.

Although my novels tackle challenging and sometimes very sad contemporary issues, I’m a great believer in the human spirit. I am humbled and amazed every day by the light and goodness and kindness and resilience I see in those around me. I believe that part of a writer’s job is to offer hope.