Here are some photos from the Willis family album. Have a look to find out who I am, where I came from and how I became an author. What’s the best thing about my job? Life is a never-ending story.
We were often abandoned in Bluebell Wood by our wicked parents. This is where I discovered a Bog Baby.
Flipping heck! The moment before I hit Nana with a frying pan for knitting me that jumper.
We didn’t have a telly; We had to amuse ourselves washing sea shells. No wonder I yearned for the wild west.
Nana on her Apple Mac. Alright, it’s a manual typewriter but it was the height of technology at the time. I typed my first books on it. I was going to be an author come hell or high water.
My Great Grandpa had a tale or two to tell…
Me at Francis Bacon Comp. I was put in detention for writing a cheeky song. Undeterred, I sang it loudly in the music room while my mate Jane backed me up on piano – I can still remember the chorus but it’s waaay too rude for here.
They’d ride off into the sunset and hope we’d be eaten by bears.
I asked for a pet dog and they surprise me with a spider?
Another fun day out with Nana and Grandad - me and Chrissy being eaten by lions.
Grandad seconds before his cake went up in smoke. He was my oldest friend and appears in lots of my books. Sometimes he just turns up out of the blue - I’d miss him if he didn’t.
Me at Wheatfields Infant’s in 1964. Once, when the teacher left the room, I sat in her chair and read’ to the class. I couldn’t read - I just picked up a book and made up a story to go with the pictures. There was applause. The power went to my head.
Me aged 9. I was writing a weekly comic called Quimbi, set in Africa. Grandad was posted there during WW1 and made it sound very alluring. I was looking for adventure but as the Willis’s only got as far as Frinton, I had to have most of my adventures on paper.
The closest we got to a safari was this wildlife park in Bedford. That monkey was the brother I'’d always wanted.
After a copywriting course at Watford Art College, I worked in an ad agency called D.D.B. This is me and my art director Ian Dicks advertising the benefits of wine.
Result! Klaus Flugge published my first book, The Tale of Georgie Grub. That’s him with the eyebrows standing next to me.
I wrote some good stuff at school encouraged by Miss Thomas, Mr Green and Mr Mills. During break, I used to sit in the girl’s toilets and write poems. By 1978, I’d outgrown my uniform - it was time for college.
As luck would have it, Ian’s wife, Margaret Chamberlain, was an illustrator; she needed a story to illustrate, I wrote one and she took it to a publisher at Andersen Press.
Just as Georgie Grub went to print, I moved to another agency - Young and Rubicam. Here I am posing for the press.
I was writing commercials and childrens’ books at the same time. Deadlines loomed. There were days when I felt like escaping out of the window.
On the set of a Sugar Puffs commercial waiting for the bun trolley to arrive. Honey Monster is lurking in the wings.
Being filmed for Challenge Anneka. I had to write a script for a children’s charity but the censors banned it - too scary - but not nearly as scary as my cardigan.
The highlight of my copywriting career was the British Gas Flotation; “If you see Sid, tell him.” Everyone wanted to know who Sid was - I was hounded by the press.
This is Dave. He’s a toad. Secretly, I just wanted to go home, write books and be with him.
I kissed my toad, he turned into a handsome prince - I got married at London Zoo.
A year later, I gave birth to the Caped Crusader
I gave birth to a fairy. She was perfect.
Went back to Y and R after Batman was born but my heart wasn’t in it - nor theirs! Got fired. Was pregnant.
Slow Norris stopped me being thrown into the Workhouse by allowing me to write scripts for TV when I lost my big fat advertising pay packet.
Lucia – who sat in my pocket and kept me company while I wrote about her.
...or Sadie sends me out for more cakes.
I’m a keen amateur entomologist - I love mini- beasts and breed moths and butterflies and collect exotic beetles and mantids. This is my favourite caterpillar - the Puss Moth.
The very hungry caterpillar...
My male African Flower Beetle
My prize-winning dahlia exhibit at the Highgate Horticultural show.
One of the rewards is the awards.
I’m now a full- time author - apart from the times Schubert drags me away for a game of pool...
Lots of my stories are inspired by nature. Here I am pond dipping for newts with my great-nephews
My Giant Atlas Moth. She emerged from a huge cocoon, flew round my office like a bat and laid pink eggs on my geraniums.
...turned into a beautiful silk moth.
I have an allotment – it’s a great place to grow flowers, vegetables and eat sandwiches. My shed is my second home – if you can’t find me, that’s where I am.
Mick the Builder - the muse for my first novel.
Me opening a school fete in Hatfield. Next stop, Hollywood - or did they say Hadley Wood?
I was born in St Albans, Herts, on Bonfire Night, 1959. My bedroom was riddled with monsters who lived under the bed. I forced my mum to suck them up the hoover.
Me at 3 months thinking up the plot for my first book and feeling rather pleased with it.
Mum was a domestic science teacher and made surreal birthday cakes - I have fond memories of a sponge decorated with a zookeeper scrubbing a hippopotamus with a yard brush.
Dad taught Latin dressed as a vampire. He once set his trousers on fire during class when he stuck his pipe in his pocket while it was still lit.
I kept my big sister Chrissy in a cage. We look nothing like each other and I often wondered if the pretty one had been adopted.
Here’s Nana making us drink from the birdbath when we visited her in London - what larks!