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Zoe Marriott

As a child

I grew up with an older sister and a younger brother who ganged up on me mercilessly whenever they could get away with it (teaching me to fight dirty at an early age). We had a small menagerie of rescued strays ranging from canaries to puppies, all of whom I liked much better than my siblings. I struggled between being a princess (because I liked frilly dresses and tiaras) and being a tomboy (because I could run faster and spit further than any of the boys). I resolved this by being a princess whenever my hair had grown long, and being a tomboy whenever my mum noticed how long my hair had gotten and chopped it off with the kitchen scissors. I knew I was going to be a writer as soon as I finished reading my first book - The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton - at the age of about seven. Mad as it sounds, I never ever changed my mind about that. The first story that I wrote was about a rabbit and a pig having a party. The second was about a girl who found a pair of magic shoes which made flowers grow wherever she walked.

As an adult

I live in a peaceful little house which has the sea on one side and marshlands on the other. Both landscapes provide inspiration for my work. For company I have two cats, one named Hero after the Shakespearian character, and the other Echo after the nymph from the Greek myth. I sing a lot, talk to myself a lot (writers are allowed to do this, and it doesn’t mean we're mad ... much) and read a lot, usually when I'm supposed to be writing.

As an artist

I usually work in my front room, hunched over a laptop, but I also do a lot of planning and playing around with things in my trusty notebook, which I take with me everywhere. Every time I start a new book I get out a new notebook, label the front page with the working title and the date and then do lots of elaborate doodling around the title with silver and gold pens to make it look official. By the time I've finished the book the notebook is usually stuffed with maps and bits of paper and full of barely readable notes that say things like: "Wingspan? Speed? Eye-Colour – Do they even sing? Make something up, useless!" I would never let anyone look in one of my notebooks. I'd be far too embarrassed.

Things you didn't know about Zoe Marriott

  1. The longest I've ever gone without chocolate is two days.
  2. I once cried for half an hour after accidentally standing on a moth and squashing it.
  3. I have twenty-four notebooks hidden in my desk, waiting to be written in, and I still can't stop buying new ones.
  4. My favourite flower is the daffodil.
  5. If I'm ever reborn, I'd like to come back as a willow tree (in a nature reserve).
  6. I can't ride a bike, and I never could.
  7. I don't have any fillings in my teeth. Not a single one.
  8. When I was little, I was convinced that wolves lived under my bed.
  9. I hate bananas.
  10. I'm convinced that one of my cats actually understands English.

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