Website of children’s author Paeony Lewis
As a child in the 1960s I spent hours roaming the woods and fields behind our house in Orpington, Kent (that’s south of London). When I outgrew my tricycle and was given a bicycle, I could roam even further with my best friend.
Do you have favourite toys you take to bed? I did and that’s me and Ted in my cot.
I had an old panda too, whose name was simply Panda. He used to belong to my mother, a long time ago. She was given Panda because in 1938 London Zoo had its first panda, called Ming, so everybody wanted their own panda to cuddle. Now Panda is almost 70 years old and I still have him.
Here’s a photo of Panda taken over 30 years ago. I’ve no idea why I put him in the garden and if you look hard you’ll see a tortoise too.
What else did I do as a child? Perhaps some of the same things as you, although we didn’t have computers.
I had fun on swings, slides and trampolines. I was rubbish on monkey bars. Here I am on a slide with my younger sister, Coral.
I adored drawing and cutting out photos from mail-order catalogues. Many of the toys I spent hours playing with included Lego, fuzzy felt, trains, a farm, dolls house, shop and garage. Barbie wasn’t popular then. Instead girls played with British dolls such as Tressy who had amazing wind-up hair that grew out of the top of her head.
Above is a photo of me with my best friend. We’re fairies watching Sooty. Yes, Sooty was around when I was young!
Perhaps you’re wondering if I always wanted to be a writer? Sadly not. At school I thought my brain would explode if I wrote too many words. Writing felt such hard work and my spelling was appalling. Maybe I was thinking about spellings in the photo on the right!
I can still remember being seven years old and staring at an evil list of school spellings. On that list was the word ‘flag’. I knew that when I was grown up I’d be able to spell ‘flag’, and I so wished that day would come. Until then I had to put up with getting most of my spellings wrong, week after week after week. By the way, I can now spell ‘flag’! I still have difficulty spelling yatch, yacth, yacht.
Even if writing was hard work, I always adored reading . Here are some of my old, favourite books from when I was about five to nine years old.
I didn’t only read stories. I’d be forever day dreaming and making up stories in my head. And acting out stories with friends was fun too, although I suspect I was a bit bossy!
Website of Children’s Author, Paeony Lewis www.paeonylewis.com © Paeony Lewis 2005/2010
The picture on the right is of me and my sister, dressing up in the late 1960s. Looks like I have a flower in my mouth - the 1960s was the time of hippy flower power!
When I was almost eleven we moved to Ightham and I went to high school in Tonbridge. Our new house had a cellar filled with crates of books and I continued to read and read and read. In fact, I had huge difficulty waking in the morning because I stayed up much too late listening to Radio Luxembourg and reading books. I’d be forever missing the school bus. Oops, I’d be late again for school...
After I left school I still never thought of writing for a living. Instead I worked in travel agents in London and Sevenoaks. After a while I became bored and decided it would be more interesting to go to university (it was). So off I went to study Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. I also explored the world, went caving, scuba diving, skiing and parachuting. Goodness, I used to be so active and now I spend too many hours in front of the computer.
Since university I’ve had many jobs in Norwich and spent years writing advertising for magazines and newspapers, and producing catalogues and press releases for books. Yes, I finally began writing for a living. That was thanks to the invention of computers and spell checkers! Some people find they write best with pen and paper. I’ve found I write best at a keyboard.
I married Garydd (a Welsh name) and we had two gorgeous children, Tim and Emily. Suddenly life changed. Here is a photo of Tim and Emily when they were younger. Don’t they look cute? Ha ha, don’t be fooled! In No More Biscuits I based Florence’s constant demands for biscuits on my dear, determined daughter. But I’m being mean - they ARE lovely and they have to put up with a lot from their batty mum!
It was through reading to Tim and Emily that I rediscovered the world of children’s books. These books oozed with imagination, optimism and fun. I loved them. At last I’d found what I wanted to do – write children’s books.
Even when I’m writing children’s books, sometimes all those words make me feel my brain will explode. But I love it (the writing, not my brain exploding).
I’ve discovered that if I stop worrying about writing an entire novel, and instead only think about each chapter, I stop panicking. Like everything in life, a big task is much easier if you divide it into little bits. All those little bits build into something BIG.
So that’s me. There is more, but this isn’t a history lesson. Do e-mail me if you have any questions. It’ll be great to hear from you.
AND FINALLY... I can’t resist showing you a photo of our dog, Spud, licking snow off his nose!