As a child
In her own words, Nicola says: "I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t utterly besotted with animals. I spent all my time before I went to school, in the garden with my lovely Grandpa (who was small and round and had all sorts of things in his cardigan pockets) looking at flowers, and ants and bird’s nests. My parents moved around quite a lot so I was always the new girl in school, which meant I spent a lot of time on my own reading and thinking... still my two favourite recreational activities. What finally saved me at school was that I learnt to make people laugh. But I was still mostly by myself, alone, out in the fields in Suffolk where my parents then lived, walking my dog and listening to the skylarks.
As an adult
I did a zoology degree and went on to study various animals in the wild; bats, geese, whales... Then I went to work at the BBC Natural History Unit, first as a researcher and later a presenter on The Really Wild Show. TV was fun for a while, but I really hated the pressure. The good thing about it was that it allowed me to earn money, and still have time for my kids when they were little. I’ve loved being a mum, absolutely adored it. Some of my happiest memories are of reading my kids books I loved as a child – books like the Lord of the Rings. I can still make my daughter squeal by doing my ‘Gollum’ voice!
As an artist
I wanted to write from about the age of twenty, and I wrote scenes and characters in my head all the time. But never put anything on paper. I would go into bookshops and see all those books and think, there’s just too many and I’m not clever enough to do yet another one. So I didn’t start writing until my thirties, when I began to write scripts for kids’ programmes. I gradually got more confidence and started to write for Walker Books, then for newspapers and magazines and then adult novels. I’ve just started to write poetry for children too. I’m terribly disciplined about my writing. I just sit down at my desk and get on with it every day I have, and get really cross about being distracted. I also teach writing at a university now and sometimes I get really cross with that too, because it keeps me from getting as much writing done as I would like. I love children’s films and cartoons... Lilo and Stitch is my favourite at the moment. I cry every time in Babe when the pig says to the sheepdog ‘Can I call you Mum?’
Things you didn't know about Nicola Davies
- If I were rich, I would fill my whole house with flowers all the time.
- I have a sister who looks and sounds just like me.
- I love singing and I know lots of folk songs (some with rather rude words!)
- My children are always telling me off for saying sorry all the time.
- I used to study whales in Newfoundland, dressed in nothing but wellies (only on hot days)
- I used to keep Shetland sheep which I sheared using a pair of kitchen scissors.
- I’m expert at wringing chickens necks (but I suppose you didn’t really want to know that!)