I was born in Canada in the small town of Grimsby during the Second World War.
When I was two my Ukrainian father died so my mother brought us (two brothers, myself and a baby sister) back to her home in New Zealand. We travelled on a war boat. I cried a lot and only wanted to eat oranges, which were hard to get during the war and especially on a boat in the middle of the ocean.
Growing up, because we weren't exactly rich, my mother made most of our clothes, plus Christmas and birthday presents. Luckily my mother couldn't make books so I used to get these bought from shops.
My reports from both primary and secondary school mostly seemed to say: 'she needs to try harder', but that 'I did have a pleasant nature'.
During the delicate years when I was learning how to be a teenager my mother married again, had a baby boy and decided we needed to become vegetarians. This latter decision caused me to develop deep friendships with meat dishes instead of boys.
At Secondary School I learnt how to become a shorthand typist, (there were no computers or Internet in those days). My typing and accounting skills were exceptional, whereas my English, biology, chemistry and shorthand were dismal. When I started work I dropped the shorthand. I did this because I could never read back what I had written and so made up a lot of stuff, which often led to trouble.
At nineteen I packed my bags and left Dunedin, New Zealand with a girl friend to travel to world and make my fortune.
I never did make the fortune, but I did travel. England, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland and other places as well.
Some of the more interesting jobs I landed while travelling was working for The Save-the-Children Fund in the head office in London; Sotheby's, the famous auction house in London; and an American couple involved in underwater archaeology in Greece and Italy, where I learnt the handy sport of diving for treasure.
Eventually I married a Rhodesian in London and returned home to New Zealand approximately eight years after I had first set out.
Soon we settled down with a daughter and a son, a house and a garden. While all this was going on I made rag dolls and toys and sold them at craft fairs and in shops around the country.
After ten years I stopped that business and changed to the business of writing.
And so I began to write. Slowly, so slowly in the beginning, gathering confidence. Snatching an hour here and there between working full-time, two teenage children, and keeping a healthy garden.
With dogged persistence I managed to have articles and adult short stories published, with some of the adult short stories winning competitions.
During this time the children left home. Daughter to Australia. The son to marry and have two children. We sold the family home and moved up the coast to Oamaru where we bought an old homestead.
A shady nook in our garden in Oamaru
While renovating the house and making gardens in the wild acre of ground I began to write for children. We lived in Oamaru for ten years.
Then we shifted and lived halfway between Dunedin and Oamaru, in the small seaside settlement of Waikouaiti, where I could hear the birds, the trains and the horses' hooves thundering through the silence. Where I could taste the frost in the winter; smell the turning leaves in the autumn and walk through the moonlit grass on a mid-summer's night.
Time for a sit down in a small corner of the garden at Waikouaiti
Then after sixteen years it was again time to move again.
Now we living in a lovely little village on the other side of Dunedin on the plain of Taieri, where again I can hear the birds, smell the frost and grow my own vegetables.