People always ask where ideas come from. Hattie came to me several years ago, when I was working as a writer and director in television. I read all about Ninjutsu and learned that these skills were really the start of James Bond and all the other action adventure heroes. Read more about where my ideas come from in Teacher's Post.
What I love about Ninjutsu is that it's not magic or something you have to be born with. People become great Ninjutsu warriors by hard work, training, mental discipline, and really smart thinking.
Wouldn't it be great if a fifteen year old girl got to do all these kick-ass things and was brighter than the mean villains trying to destroy her?
Well, along came Hattie and her family and her story just unfolded from all the wonderful skills I wanted to write about.
I've always loved stories from when I was as young as I can remember.
This is me when I was so young I had to have stories read to me...
... and this is me now - with Mitten, my ninja inspiration...
I grew up in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and I remember very clearly the moment I could read. I was begging my mum to tell me a bedtime story. She'd already treated me to a couple of chapters from Mr Meddle Muddles by Enid Blyton but I wasn't tired. I pleaded with her to stay and read me more, which being the brilliant mum she is, she did. But eventually, she said - 'you could read it yourself if you really wanted. I'll leave the light on for a while'. Well, she came to bed after midnight and I was nearly at the end of the book! She was horrified I wasn't asleep - but I'd discovered I really could read for myself and I'd got the bug so bad, I just couldn't put that book down. Since then I have read whatever I can - any book about anything, fact or fiction.
At school when I was around 10 or 11 we had one afternoon every week where someone would go to the front of the class and tell the story of a book they'd been reading. Every Wednesday afternoon it was me with my hand in the air, desperate to tell everyone about the latest C S Lewis or Enid Blyton or fairy tale that was filling my imagination.
I love the smell of books, the feeling you get from opening that first page and losing yourself in someone else's world.
My favourite book of all time has to be To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It's set in America's Deep South and is the story of Atticus, a lawyer, and his two children, Scout (who narrates) and Jem. It's a brilliant piece of work on all levels - engaging, funny, frightening, sad and moral.
I have lots of favourite films too - especially anything in 3D. I go to the Imax the minute a new film opens and I'm over the moon that cinemas everywhere are showing 3D films now as well.
After school I studied drama at university in Hull. After that, I worked at the BBC, then I left to become a freelance writer and director. I've made all kinds of TV programmes, but here are some of the family productions I've been involved in. If you want to find out more, each picture is a link to further information.
Sometimes I work in theatre and now I write books too. It's a great life being a writer. My theatre work has been in the UK, Ireland and America. Most recently, my adaptation of the true life story, A Round-Heeled Woman, which I also directed, transferred to the Aldwych theatre in London’s West End, starring Cagney & Lacey star, Sharon Gless.
I had some writing to do on holiday in Belize ...
When I'm not working and not reading or watching films, I love anything to do with water and wildlife - preferably the two combined.I've been lucky enough to swim with dolphins...
... humpback whales, sperm whales, stingrays and recently even a manatee.
The world is a marvellous place and that's where a lot of my creative inspiration comes from.
So I'd love it if you read Hattori Hachi - and if you already have, I'd love you to e-mail me with your thoughts. Please do. Tell me what you do and don't like. Let me know if there are things that should be written about but no one has. The books are for you to enjoy - so I really hope you do.