In the beginning…
Born and raised till I was 12 in Canada, I’ve lived in the UK since 1985, with a brief spell (6 months) in Spain during my degree. I graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford University, in 1996 and spent a few years working for the University as a schools liaison officer, encouraging children from traditionally non-academic backgrounds to apply to university and presenting talks on Oxbridge to children, parents, teachers and careers advisers. During this time, I also had the privilege of working with Sir Peter Lampl and his team through organising and running two of the Sutton Trust Summer Schools for teachers and for pupils.
In 1999, I moved into the publishing world and trained at GTI Specialists Publishers, working my way up from an editorial assistant to editor of the company’s flagship graduate careers publication on law. In 2001, I went freelance and have been a self-employed writer, editor, researcher and project manager ever since, working for a vast range of clients, including:
- Oxfordshire County Council – as a lead researcher into adult social care provision
- Oxfam – as a copywriter, editor and proofreader
- the National Literacy Trust – as a project manager for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign
- Edge Hill University – as a local project co-ordinator for their Every Child Writes programme
A few years after the birth of my daughter, I returned to study by completing a second BA in Literature from the Open University, followed swiftly by an MA in Children’s Literature from the University of Roehampton, which I completed in 2016, gaining a Merit. Together with my daughter, I set up a children’s literature blog – www.childtasticbooks.com – which has featured in the national press (in the Telegraph and the Sunday Times) and been recommended on international blog sites. Although my daughter no longer writes for the site, I still post regularly – usually reviews on recent books (often sent to me by publishers) but also on topics related to children’s literature and literacy. Additionally, I participate in blog tours to promote new books from some of the biggest publishing houses.
I’ve also reviewed children’s, young adults’ and adults’ books for We Love This Book, published online by the Bookseller, and the Oxford Times.
As well as my freelance writing, I work as a part-time primary school librarian – a job that I cherish. Each week, as well as issuing and returning books, I:
- work with children with low literacy skills
- run story sessions
- host library lunchtimes (usually either story times or arts and crafts sessions based on books we have read)
- organise author visits – we’ve had the pleasure of hosting award-winning and shortlisted authors Peter Bently, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Duncan Beedie in the last couple of years
- design and create displays to encourage love of reading
- write newsletters and blog posts
- encourage pupils to write reviews (which I then tweet to authors), and create comics
If you’d like to read more about my experience, you can check out my LinkedIn profile.