Sheila grew up by the sea. She now lives in a land-locked village at the foot of the South Downs in Sussex, but when the west wind blows, the roar of traffic on a distant motorway sounds like the sea. This is probably why her debut children’s book Sun Catcher, a magical reality adventure, starts among troglodytes who live and harvest seaweed at the edge of the ocean in a mythical Bronze Age.
Sheila can’t remember a time when she wasn’t making up stories and says she always thought that being a writer would be the best job in the world. But she went off to follow other dreams, trained as a teacher, had a family and set up home in the country with children, generations of small pets and bantam hens, wrote a few stories for magazines and did an OU degree in her spare time. Meanwhile, just as she had always suspected, she also discovered that teaching is one of the most amazing jobs ever when she worked in primary schools then became a dyslexia tutor in secondary schools. She co-wrote a musical for schools Wind Spinners ran a Special Needs Department in a mainstream comprehensive and taught creative writing to adults until she decided it was time to seize the day, live the dream and write a children’s book.
Sun Catcher, her first children’s book, was conceived and started on the train journey to Bath where she studied for an MA at Bath Spa University. It won the annual United Agents’ Prize for the most promising children’s novel in her final year. When she is not writing, or talking about stories and books, (some of her favourite activities) she still works part time in a comprehensive school where pupils love reading. So does she.
Sheila has recently been selected as one of the writers for the 21st Century Author Initiative sponsored the Premier League working in tandem with the National Literacy Agency to promote children’s literacy.
She is currently editing Story Singer (due 2015) the third book in the trilogy following Sun Catcher and Storm Chaser, so completing the first ancient world adventure reviewed in the Guardian as ‘a game of thrones for younger readers.’
Her next challenge is probably to write the book about a girl called Sky and the Viking sorceress unless she decides she must resolve the mystery of the boy on the beach or follow Amelie’s experiences in a war-torn northern France. She’s looking forward to it.