I started writing stories when I was about 8 years old. I made books out of folded paper with a staple in the middle, and wrote tales of talking mice and rescuing baby birds.

But it was the Oakland series back in 1984 that was my most serious attempt at being an author, and the one that had the most response…

In Grade 5, my friend Caryl and I were put at a table with the four naughtiest boys in the class, with the understanding that we would help the teacher keep them under control. The Four Creeps, Helier, Bruce the Goose, Mark (Vuzzy Bear) and Graham were great fun, but mischievous, and we had all sorts of things done to us. (a spiky seedpod on my chair stands out in my memory)

So we showed them that the pen is mightier than the sword. We invented a resort town called Oakland, where our parents sent us (by ourselves!!!) during our school holidays.

We had the girls group, and the boys group, and the war continued in the pages of our story. This time, however, the girls always got the best of the boys in the end, and always fully illustrated!

Writing stories was fantastic, because we could do things to the boys that we could never do in real life. Imagine the trouble we would be in if we threw a real boy into a hole full of actual crabs!

But we could do that in fiction…

With every new instalment, we would read it out to our class. That way, we could get the boys back for all the things they did to us, in a fun, creative and non trouble-making way… and the boys actually enjoyed it!