So... why did you write Invisible?
I wanted to write a book for girls and I was scratching around looking for a story. The inspiration came from a conversation with my friend Gill who was talking about her daughter Mollie wanting to be an actress. I'd always thought Mollie was a pretty shy person so I was surprised that this was her big dream in life. "She seems shy, but she comes alive on the stage," said Gill, and straight away I knew that this would be the basis of the story.
Why is Jazmine deaf?
I actually have no background with deafness at all - no one in my family has been deaf and it's not something I know much about. The real reason came from the need to keep Jazmine from knowing that her dad committed suicide. Somehow a nine year old had to get through a funeral and everyone talking about her dad without understanding what actually happened. I figured if she couldn't hear it, she wouldn't know, and it was a simple step to add a hearing aid to the mix. She also needed another reason to not 'fit in' at school and being deaf seemed to be a bit of a barrier that people would have to get past.
Why did you put in The Secret Garden?
I love the classics of children's literature and Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of my fave authors (not for TSG though... it was A Little Princess that rocked my world) so it's nice to pay respect to the authors and stories I loved when I was young.
Gabby loves baboons. Isn't that just kind of random?
Well, exactly. I wrote Gabby as a really bouncy, over the top kind of person. It just seemed like she would get obsessed about something random and crazy, and baboons were the first thing that popped into my head. I'm sure she'll drop baboons in a couple of months and move on to striped nail polish or Twix bars or wearing odd socks or something else.
Is Miss Fraser based on a real person?
No. I made her up as the person I would have liked to have had believe in me when I was 12. Actually I did have a few great mentors around that age, mostly the housemothers at my boarding school. My favourite was Auntie Eunice, who used to give me warm drinks of Horlicks when I came to tell her my troubles but there are probably elements of all of them in Miss Fraser.
Jazmine changes so much in the story. Is that really possible?
Invisible takes place over one school term, and yes, there are a lot of changes in Jazmine from beginning to end, and while it's quick, I do think it's possible. Obviously in books sometimes you have to stretch the story a bit to make it fit, but I'm sure that over time Jazmine will eventually come completely out of her shell. If you have someone who believes in you to help you, and if you want to make changes, you can do it. Sometimes you have to challenge yourself and do the thing you fear the most in your life. In Jazmine's case, it was standing up and being seen. So... what's the hardest thing in your life?