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Erica Blaney

Erica is the author of Cybernation and Solarnation, classic fantasies for 9 to 13 year-olds (Hodder Children's Books)

But in her own words...

I am married to Darren, who is a Baptist Pastor, though I don't hold this against him. We have four children. Our first home was a houseboat, which sounds wonderfully romantic to anybody who's never lived on a houseboat. It smelt of mushrooms; no, we smelt of mushrooms. And it had a wobbly gangplank and a chemical toilet, which I had to empty.

The first proper house we lived in had a proper flushing toilet with a flusher that actually flushed whenever you flushed it, which was thrilling at the time, if you ignored the fact that there was no plaster on the walls and sometimes no toilet either as it kept falling off. We lived there for four years on £5000 and about £1:50 in what the Conservative government wittily called "benefits", while Darren completed his theological training. Meanwhile I had children, ran the music group, helped out at the playgroup, and played piano at the nursery.

We moved again, twice. (Despite being owned by a church this last house was, and still is in fact, an ex-pub. It was built in 1871; has no right angles anywhere at all; and appears in two books; which makes it a more successful literator than I am.)

When I was at school I entered every available writing competition, and always came either second or third: "how frustrating was that", one might say; though I did get a day-trip to Amsterdam out of it. One of my short stories was shortlisted in The Real Writers Award 2003. I had another published in an online science-fiction sight called Aphelion, and a magazine called Jupiterwith published another of my science-fiction stories. I do like science fiction, though I've found you have to pretend to be bipolar to get anything published. I've also written a number of sketches for performance in Gillingham town centre (one for the Make Poverty History campaign) and stories for Storytelling, which I performed myself.

I am a compulsive reader, reading everything from Chicken Licken to Chick Lit. (Well, maybe not Chicken Licken. I just put that because it alliterated.) I love children's books, and am always raiding the children's section at the library. I also read crime, science fiction, that mysterious category called "literature", and factual books. Anything with words, really. Instructions on shampoo bottles. Greetings cards in shops.

I take a keen interest in ethical issues, and can bore holes in concrete if asked for my views on Nestlé, global warming, permaculture,Make Poverty History, cloning, genetic engineering…Inevitably these things spill over into my writing: I never intend to preach or provide pat answers, but I do think it's vital that people think and discuss these things. Teenagers particularly are at the age when they are finding things out and making decisions about how they will live, which is why I find them so rewarding to talk to and write for.

I sing mezzo-soprano in a local choral society and in the Kent Chamber Choir, including the occasional solo. I'm the Creative Arts Co-ordinator in my church, which means encouraging dance, drama and music. And, bizarrely, flag-waving. I also paint, usually portraits of my children. (I'd love to do life painting, but I'm not sure how as a pastor's wife I could get away with asking people to pose in the nude.)

As my children progressed through their various educational stages so did I; helping out at mother-and-toddler groups, playgroup, nursery, and volunteering at the junior school to help children with reading difficulties. I've been a Sunday School Teacher, (never again, I was dreadful) and am currently a leader in a lively children's club. I co-host a teenagers' housegroup, which is a pretentious way of saying I feed a bunch of teens once a week. (I also see this as an opportunity to use them mercilessly to market-test anything I write, and they make some good suggestions. Either that, or they're being polite.)

And that's it. I thought that writing my CV it would be difficult as I've never actually done anything, but now I look at it, it seems quite a lot. I suppose I find the time to do it all by neglecting the housework, which has the added advantage of annoying my husband's deacons.


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