I moved around a lot as a child – my father was in the military. I was the youngest of four children. We lived in England, Wales and – for a few very happy years in the 1960s – in Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Spain. When my father left the army we settled in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the North East of England, living on two different council estates to the west of the city. I left home in 1976 to go to art college in Manchester. What an amazing time to be a music-loving art student. It was like I’d been wearing a heavy hat for years and had finally taken it off. It felt like I belonged. I was there for four years before heading off to London to seek my fortune as an illustrator.
Although I designed theatre posters and building site screens and even provided artwork for the labels on cans of beans, I worked mainly for newspapers and magazines as an editorial illustrator, caricaturist and political cartoonist. I worked for most of the UK broadsheet newspapers and spent six years working as one of a team of cartoonists on The Economist. I wrote several strip cartoons – weekly for the Observer, the Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman, and daily for The Independent. I was the daily political cartoonist on the Independent for a short time at the end of the 90s.
I’ve always written stories and always thought of myself as a writer (although not especially for children), but I was an illustrator for twenty years before my friend and colleague, Chris Riddell, suggested I write something for children and handed the result to his editor at Random House. My first book – Dog magic! – was published in 2000 and I have had at least one book published every year since.
I now live, write, draw and paint in Cambridge.