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Ann Coburn

As a child

The River Tyne ran through my childhood. I was born in North Shields and brought up in and around Newcastle and Gateshead. I grew up with two brothers, two sisters, a dog, a cat, a budgie, a tortoise, various hamsters and guinea pigs – oh, and a whole shoal of goldfish. I spent my summer holidays playing at the local beach and swimming in the freezing North Sea. I always loved reading and writing stories; I got through all the children's fiction in my local library by the time I was eleven – every single book. I was too young to use the adult library but a kind librarian showed me to the myths and legends section. There I found stories from all over the world, some of them centuries old. That was when I realized how important stories are to us – all of us. That was when I decided to become a writer.

As an adult

I live in Northumbria with my husband John and our two children, Helen and Alex. North Northumberland is a great place for a writer to live. For inspiration, it has lots of local stories, ruined castles and a violent past. For walking and thinking, it has the widest, whitest, emptiest beaches in the country, as well as high moors, bleak hills and sparkling rivers full of salmon. It can get pretty cold here in winter, though – and the wind can be a real bully! I have had lots of jobs since I left school, including being a shop assistant, a hot dog and ice-cream seller at Butlins, an airline meal packer at Luton Airport, an English teacher and a library assistant. But the job I have done for the longest (and the one I like best) is being a writer.

As an artist

There is no dining room in our house because I have claimed it as my study. It doubles as a guest bedroom so visitors have to get used to waking up to find me tapping away on my keyboard at the end of their sofa bed. I love writing when I'm at the ideas stage or working on the last draft. I hate making a start on a first draft. It is horrible to watch my lovely idea floundering as I struggle to put it onto the page. At the first draft stage, I am very good at finding other things to do instead. I wrote my first book by getting up at five o'clock each morning and putting in a couple of hours before going off to work. It took me four years and a lot of re-writing! Nowadays, I'm a full-time writer. As well as children's fiction, I write theatre plays (for both adults and children) and the occasional screenplay. I can't imagine doing anything else.

Things you didn't know about Ann Coburn

  1. Ann is the oldest of five children – but only just. She was born ten minutes before her twin sister Hazel.
  2. She is left-handed, along with Brad Pitt, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicole Kidman and many more beautiful and creative types.
  3. She is the official spider catcher in her house. Insects and creepie-crawlies don't bother her at all – except for angry wasps.
  4. She loves movies (especially scary ones) and popcorn (but only the salted kind).
  5. She once slid down a Welsh mountainside on a tea tray.
  6. Ann still has her first teddy bear. He looks a bit past it because most of his hair was singed off when she (aged three) threw him on the fire (along with a pile of washing).
  7. Ann has no time for bullies, no matter how grown up or important they are.
  8. Part of the idea for the Dream Team series came from her family's pizza-making sessions. The first rule is - there are no rules. Everyone gets to put whatever they want on their pizza dough. What would be your Dream Pizza?
  9. Ann loves to dream but has trained herself to wake up if she is having a really bad nightmare.
  10. Ann hates the sound of someone sucking the juice out of an ice-lolly – it makes her want to scream very loudly!

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