Home | Biog | Contact

 

I've been interviewed many times, but the interviewers hardly ever ask me the questions I wish they would! So here is me, interviewing myself.

 

Me:

Well, I suppose we have to get a few things out of the way. When and where we were born and so forth.

I:

London, England July I929 -

Me:

July, yes, typical bossy Leo, passionate, exhibitionist, mood-swingy - "Nothing so happy as a happy Leo," right?

I:

Nor as unhappy as - oh, come, come, we don't believe in all that astrological rubbish.

Me:

No no, of course not, we're sensible and rational, but we do like a bit of fun, eh, partner? Now then. When did we first decide to be a famous talented successful rich book-writer?

I:

We didn't. We decided to be a famous talented drop-dead-gorgeous star of stage, screen and anything else that was going.

Me:

An actress, you mean. Yeeees, I'd forgotten that. So what happened?

I:

We failed dismally.

Me:

Did we really, how sad. So? Then we picked ourself up, dusted ourself off, and decided to be a famous etc. etc. writer instead?

I:

Not precisely, no. We blundered about for a while, looking for a way of earning a crust and wound up, after various vicissitudes -

Me:

Keep it simple, ducky, they'll switch off.

I:

Rot, kids love long words. We wound up as a television journalist.

Me:

Sounds glamorous!

I:

It was rather. But then we got the boot from that and became a backroom person writing nasty ephemeral little scripts.

Me:

Boring.

I:

You said it. No job for a Leo. We were pacing our cage, snarling softly and dangerously. But nobody listened so we sat down at a company typewriter in company time, and wrote a novel.

Me:

On company paper? Ooh, yes, I remember that! And everyone laughed, but then it became a best-seller and had a movie made out of it and they stopped.

I:

For the time being, yes.

Me:

Oh. When did they start laughing again?

I:

When we decided to move to an Israeli kibbutz.

Me:

Yes, well you can't blame them. We're not even Jewish.

I:

We're not a Jew. But we are Jew-ish.

Me:

Pardon? Never mind. How did we make out? Did we become a horny-handed daughter of toil?

I:

You sound like the people who laughed!

Me:

Well, it's funny! Urban us, mucking out chickens and working in vineyards in the boiling heat?

I:

Well, we did, but that was rather boring too, until the kibbutz asked us if we could teach their kids English.

Me:

We were better at that than the chickens!

I:

We enjoyed it a whole lot more, anyway. And meantime we got married to a gorgeous sculptor, and had a baby.

Me:

Had two.

I:

Had three, but who's counting? All boys. We named them Adiel, Gillon and Omri. Good Hebrew names.

Me:

All those bible-thumpers who ask where you got the name Omri! He's in the Book of Kings! They should stop thumping it and read it. So what happened about writing?

I:

Not a lot. We wrote plays for the kids to act in and stories for them to read and in eight years we only wrote one novel.

Me:

Lazy! Was that a children's one?

I:

No, a grown-up's. We didn't start writing children's books till we came back to Britain.

Me:

Well, we had to do something, we were dead skint. So, then we spent a lot of years writing all sorts of things - plays, grown-up books, histories, short stories, and one or two kids' books as well. Work work work!

I:

And then we wrote one called "The Indian in the Cupboard".

Me:

Ah, yes, the turn of the tide! Where did that book come from?

I:

It came from a little bathroom cupboard we had. Omri thought it looked shabby and wanted to throw it away but I told him it was a magic cupboard and told him a story about it instead. Later I wrote it into a book.

Me:

And a lot of people liked it and it won some prizes and after that we stopped writing for adults for a long time and just wrote for children and young adults. And we travelled to places like India and Africa and Australia and went to visit schools all over the place and had some terrific times! And our kids grew to man's estate and turned into lovely people it was great to be the mother of, and we wrote and wrote and now we've written more than forty books!

I:

Excuse me.

Me:

What?

I:

I thought you were supposed to be interviewing me.

Me:

Sorry, I got a bit carried away. After all, writing for a living is a great life, if you don't weaken, and can keep the ideas coming.

I:

Aren't you going to ask me which is my favourite book, and to give tips for young writers, and all that?

Me:

No. How could we have a favourite book, we love them all and are proud of them, just like our children. As for tips, kids who love to write don't need tips, they know what to do, just keep writing and reading and reading and writing and minding their P's and Q's -

I:

Their what's?

Me:

Pleases and thank Q's, which is to say, their writing-manners, their grammar, their punctuation, their presentation when they send their work to somebody. Their reading-aloud-to-themselves. Their observations. Their pickings-up-of-unconsidered-trifles in everyday life and turning them into glittering narrative marvels by passing them lightly through the magic meteor storm of their imaginations.

I:

Might I get a word in?

Me:

What can you possibly have to say? I've said it all!

I:

You are such a Leo dominating everything, even me!

Me:

Can't help it. Tell you what. Let's stop this and go and write a book.