For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with animals. I grew up on the outskirts of the city of Bath in an ordinary house, with an extraordinary garden. It was long and steep. The far end was allowed to grow wild, a tangle of nettles and brambles around gnarled apple trees. It was there that I discovered slow worms and newts, and butterflies and beetles. It was my own safari park. I even had a hospital for small animals and insects in my back garden!
I liked the idea of being an explorer journeying into leech-infested jungles or crossing the high Arctic in a dog sledge in search of polar bears. If I couldn’t be an explorer, I wanted to be a vet.
At school I was disappointed that teachers never taught the really important things, like ‘how to avoid a herd of charging elephants’ or, ‘what to do if your canoe hits a rock in rapids, splits in two and sinks into the Zambezi river.’ (These things really happened to me and I always felt I could have been better prepared!).
When I grew up, I did become a vet and my work took me from the wilds of Africa to the frozen lands of the Arctic…
Recently, inspired by real-life working dogs and my own pet dogs, I have written a new series for younger readers called Puppy Academy. My latest book for older children is Gorilla Dawn, about two brave young children and a young gorilla, set in the wilds of Africa.
At the festival Gill will be doing an event about her Puppy Academy books you can read about them here