I was born in Parramatta, in Sydney, Australia, the youngest of four children in a Catholic family. A lot of my childhood was spent in bed with bronchial infections and asthma - these are the days before Ventolin - and I was forbidden (literally, on pain of death) to run around. My mother says she was very lucky that I was a reader, but I suspect that I would have turned into a reader if I hadn't been one already. I've noticed how many writers and illustrators have had a childhood illness, or sometimes a shift to a strange place - something that turns them into an observer rather than a participant. Any reader can fully participate in books, however, and so I became the classic bookworm.
I went to Catholic schools: St Mary's at Rydalmere and then Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta for high school. I was blessed with excellent teachers, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Then I went to the University of Technology, Sydney (at that time the NSW Institute of Technology) and did a BA in Communications.
Since then, I have worked in the public service, as a waitress, in public relations, as a sub-editor, a scriptwriter for the PowerHouse Museum and for ABC Kids TV, a university lecturer, a business consultant, a technical writer and editor, a consultant in preventing corruption in law enforcement agencies, and an educational designer and trainer for adults.
I became a children's writer while I was working as a scriptwriter for ABC TV. One of the stories I published in The NSW School Magazine, Betony's Sunflower, became the last chapter in my first book, The Willow Tree's Daughter. This was the first of the three 'Floramonde' books, and is also the first time we meet Prince Victor, who returned in Victor's Quest and (soon) in Victor's Challenge. (Incidentally, the editor of the School Magazine at the time was Anna Fienberg, the writer of the Tashi books.)
After I left the ABC, I ran two careers, as writer and consultant, for around twelve years until my son was born, when I dropped the consultancy work. I have now written 17 books for children and young adults (see the Books section for details). I have been shortlisted for the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards twice, the NSW Premier's Awards twice and the Koala Awards. Scum of the Earth won the Environment Prize in 2004 and my fictional biography of Australian pioneer Mary MacKillop won the NSW History Prize for Young People in 2006.
I am now also writing fantasy books for adults and the first of these, Blood Ties, was published in September 2007. Deep Water and Full Circle, the second and third books of the trilogy, will follow in 2008 and 2009.