Every writer has their inspiration, and aside from the whole disability thing I have going on, my main muse as a writer is other writers.
Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; I even had waterproof bath-tub books as a toddler. Before school, I had the entire bottom shelf of my parents’ bookcase filled with my own books, including ones that had been bought, and others that had been passed down through the family. Apparently I used to run to the bookshelf, grab as many books as I could possibly carry, and then plonk myself on my mum’s lap to read for the afternoon. On more than one occasion our beloved cat came to join these reading sessions.
I could actually read before I went to school; not because anybody pressured me to, but because I wanted to. I wrote my name in the sand pit when my parents were viewing potential nurseries for me to attend, which mum hastily erased to avoid any allegations of putting too much pressure on me. She even had to sign a consent form saying that I was allowed to read the books in the nursery, which were meant to be read to us at story-time, after they found me in the corner under a pile books quite happily reading them to myself.
Once I got to school, I got a small bookcase in my bedroom, which was placed at the end of the bed to make it easy to reach. I got into the habit of reading before going to sleep, something I still do sometimes, usually with the cat curled up on my feet.
The books changed as I grew older, but my love for them did not. I soon had favourite authors, first Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson, then Charlie Higson, and as an adult Charles Dickens and Jeffrey Archer became firm favourites.
As I aged, I started to find an unexpected joy in writing my own stories, and probably levelled an entire rainforest in filled notepads. I tried to combine the detailed character development of Charles Dickens with the exhilarating action sequences of Jeffrey Archer, and the friendly, easy-to-read style of Michael Morpurgo.
As for the more humorously autobiographical style of Diary of a Disabled Person, I took inspiration from the likes of Gervais Phinn (a school inspector from the Yorkshire dales), James Herriot (the infamous Yorkshire vet), and Jennifer Worth (Call the Midwife). All of these writers presented their work as short, funny, but insightful anecdotes about one aspect of their lives; something which I strive to emulate in my own work.
In all of this, it is of course impossible for me to ignore the influence of my English teachers at school, particularly during my GCSE years. I was universally encouraged to keep writing, and to develop a unique style of my own. They pushed me to be the best that I could be, and was rewarded by receiving the English award for my year group at the end of my exams.
(Coincidentally, this trophy is now being used as a weight to stop Tribble the hamster escaping from the top hatch of her cage.)
I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t believe in concepts like fate and destiny, but I can’t help feeling just a little that perhaps I was born to write.