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Berlie Doherty

As a child

I was brought up by the sea, and loved it. We lived in a small town, and the weekly trip to the library was one of my favourite treats. I went with my dad. He encouraged me to write stories and poems, which were often published in the children’s pages of local newspapers (Hoylake News and Advertiser, and The Liverpool Echo). I rejoiced in the prizes (which were sometimes boxes of chocolates), but had the even greater thrill of seeing my writing in print. I knew I wanted to be a writer. Sadly, these publications came to an end when I was fourteen and too old to be on the children’s page. My writing didn’t emerge for another twenty years or more.

As an adult

In my early twenties, I had my first daughter, Joanna, closely followed by Tim and then Sally. I was a full-time mum, and loved every moment of watching my children grow. When Sally started school, I went back to university to train to be a teacher, and it was there that my writing started again. I have been a full-time, compulsive writer of plays, novels, stories and poetry since my first book (How Free You Are!) was published in 1982, and consider myself to be extremely lucky to be able to earn my living by doing what I love most. I live in the Peak District of Derbyshire – as beautiful, in its own way, as the sea of my childhood.

As an artist

The window of my writing room looks out over farmland to the Kinder Plateau, the beginning of the Pennine hills. Many of my books are set in Derbyshire, and are much inspired by the changing lights and colours of the mountains. I am also inspired by music – The Midnight Man and Blue John, were specially commissioned to be read with the music that inspired them. I have just written the words (the libretto) of an opera, based on my novel Daughter of the Sea, and this is the most exciting commission I have ever been given.

Things you didn't know about Berlie Doherty

  1. The first time I went snorkelling I came face to face with a shark.
  2. I love liquorice.
  3. I’m a vegetarian and have been for over twenty years – but I still eat fish.
  4. I play the penny whistle (and sometimes the fiddle) in a Ceilidh band – badly!
  5. I have a cat called Midnight. He’s all black, apart from a little white moon under his chin and white stars at the end of his tail.
  6. If I wasn’t going to be a writer, I would have wanted to be a singer, a librarian, a ballet dancer, a swimming-pool attendant or an air hostess.
  7. I love the sound of rain on my window.
  8. I can’t bear the smell of cigarette smoke.
  9. I live with another children’s author, Alan Brown.
  10. I’m learning to play the piano and violin.

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