My influences? Everything in my short intro, and much more! Really, it's impossible to say what single thing in particular has influenced my writing. Born in Africa, one of my very earliest memories is of camping in the bush, and in the middle of the night a leopard snatching a woman from her tent - it was one of the guides' wives, I remember that clearly despite being only two years old. I remember the screams and the chaos, and that the woman died. I have loved and loathed Africa, in myriad ways, ever since.
My mother read to me even before I was born, and another clear memory is from the ripe old age of 3. A missionary priest gave me a birthday gift - a children's version of "The Count of Monte Christo", by Dumas. It became my most treasured possession; I thought it the most beautful thing in the world, and there and then, barely out of toddlerhood, I knew that one day I wanted to "make books". I kept that book right through my life, through moving around all over Central and Southern Africa (11 schools, 37 homes!), until just a few years ago, when we sold and gave away everything we had to go sailing. Even then, I almost kept it ...
At age 4, the local village school had to let me in a year early - I kept reappearing on their doorstep, desperate to stay, and could read better than their older kids. At 8 I was reading "Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare" to my restless siblings. From Brer Fox and Aesop's Fables to the Brontes and Jane Austin, and pretty much everything in between - I read anything I could lay my hands on. I'm the kid with the torch under my midnight blankets ... and in the treehouse while everyone else was partying ... in the library till after closing time till they had to shoo me out ... yes, glasses and all.
I've fought in a bush war (Rhodesia/Zimbabwe), camped beside hippos, hunted crocodile (yes, just one!), had mad adventures on (and off) film and television sets, sat on boards for script writing associations, governmental regulating committees and Child Welfare; dragged up two children and a husband (who all turned out amazingly well in spite of me), done youth and women's and music ministry, sailed in the Indian Ocean islands and the east coast of Africa, ridden motorbikes across Southern Africa ...
And here I am now, half a century behind me, and just as crazy about books and writing as I always was. I've done a variety of work in television/film production, as well as writing for TV, radio, film and multimedia, and print; teaching, mentoring, developing new writers, giving workshops ... and finally the dreams of that 3-year-old child are coming true, as I now have my own little publishing company - Sunpenny Publishing. At last, I "make books"!
50 years gone, 50 more to go. Life looks good!