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I once tried to count how many different places in my wandering life I’ve called home. I gave up when I reached forty homes in twelve cities and towns in six different countries. And I still haven’t visited nearly as many places as I’d like yet.
I started dreaming about exotic places at the age of 10, when I first cracked the cover of a small collection of tales and pictures called The Arabian Nights. The stories were taken from The Thousand and One Nights, and names like Samarkand, Shiraz, and Baghdad still carry a magic for me which no amount of current history can overshadow.
The stories must have triggered something else in me, too, as it was around this time that I first began to dream of writing myself. Following the advice of Jane Austen, I wrote my first story about the world I knew – my cat. And following my own imagination, I wrote the cat’s story from inside the cat’s head.
After beginnings like this, it flows naturally that my two favourite genres should become romance and science fiction. My first romantic short story sold to the first magazine I sent it to; my first science fiction was simultaneously rejected.
I was too naïve to realise how lucky I was with the romance story, and it never occurred to me to send the science fiction story to a different publisher. I concentrated on romance, and my only serious foray into that other world – so far – has been the fantasy satire
Spoken Cat, which was published in 1997.
In between bouts of travel and university, I’ve been a full-time writer since 1980 when my first novel was published. My favourite hobby is foreign languages – I’ve studied eight so far, though sadly I haven’t become fluent in any. One of the most enjoyable periods in my life was the three years I recently spent at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where I was the first student ever to graduate in the double degree of Persian and Religious Studies.
I live with my husband, Nick, and a cat named Monsieur. The two of them are equal parts maddening and indispensable to my happiness.