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Elspeth Graham

As a child

I was born during a snowstorm in a small house on Bollihope Common in County Durham. When I was three my family moved to a village called Wall (on the Roman Wall) in Northumberland. I went to the village school, which was such a tiny school that I was the only child in my year. In the winters, my brother would sometimes pull me to school on a sledge. I loved growing up in the country.

As an adult

I could never decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. There were always too many things that I enjoyed doing to choose. For a while I ran a wholefood shop in Devon. Then I bought a huge floor loom and became a weaver – I made rugs and blankets and some very strange jackets. After a few years I decided to go to University and study law. I got a degree but never became a lawyer. When my son Tom was old enough to go to school I went back to University and trained to be a teacher. And eventually I began to write books with my husband, Mal Peet.

As an artist

For many years, Mal and I worked side-by-side (or back-to-back, depending on how we felt about each other) in a small, cluttered room. Very often there would be a child or two and a dog crammed in there as well. My table was for writing, Mal’s was for drawing and painting. We wrote mostly ‘Early Reads’ for younger children, children at Primary schools. I can’t remember exactly how many books we produced – well over a hundred, anyway. Now we’ve moved to a house where we can have a room each. Mine is on the ground floor, Mal’s is up in the roof. These days, he writes novels for teenagers and adults. I still write for younger schoolchildren (and teachers). But we get together to write picture books, which is what we’d always wanted to do in the first place. Cloud Tea Monkeys is the first one. The second will be called Night Sky Dragons, and the third Mysterious Traveller. It’s usually me who comes up with the ideas for the stories. They’re often interesting little bits and pieces I come across when I’m researching for non-fiction books. Then my job is to persuade Mal that the idea is a good one (which is not always easy). Often, we work out the story and make up the characters on long walks with our two dogs. We do a lot of walking!

Things you didn't know about Elspeth Graham

  1. I have one leg shorter than the other.
  2. I love the smell of baking bread and often make far more loaves than my family can eat – and they can eat an awful lot.
  3. I have a very loud sneeze and I always sneeze several times running.
  4. I can’t ride a bike.
  5. I hate wriggly things that live in the sea.
  6. I can say the alphabet backwards really fast.
  7. I’m not very good at knowing where to put, commas.
  8. I have two ridiculous white fluffy dogs called Alfie and Pedro.
  9. I’m really really good at wrapping presents.
  10. I have one leg longer than the other.

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