I was born in Basle, Switzerland where my mother comes from, in April 1968 and I was raised in Accra, Ghana. I am the middle of five children. I came to England to study law at Durham University in 1988. I loved everything about England and the English from the very first day although it didn't much resemble the country I imagined it would be from my childhood reading of Enid Blyton. I hadn't really intended to stay, however, I never left.
My grandparents on both sides were unimpressed with my parents' mixed marriage. Perhaps as a result of this, my siblings and I were raised very colour blind and rather apart from either culture. Neither parent spoke their native language with us; English was our home language.
Growing up during the seventies and eighties in Ghana, it seemed to me that there was coup after coup. There were great shortages of everything; water, electricity and food, although we never went hungry. Unlike many other families in a position to, my parents didn't leave Ghana for the UK or other African countries that became a haven for Ghanaian professionals. Although life must have been tough, my memories of that time are happy, but tinged with a fear of death because of what was happening around us. When I was about eleven, the father of one of my classmates, who had been in a previous regime, was executed by firing squad. My classmate was in school on the morning his father was scheduled to die, and I remember watching him and trying to imagine how he was feeling. Soon after, he left the school, and I imagine they fled the country. It was a frightening fear for a child, one that I couldn't rationalise, and which I don't remember being explained to me.
There were no shopping malls and no cinemas or theatre for children, and my mother was very strict about what we watched on television before the government censored television to the point that there was nothing to watch anyway, so our main entertainment was to read. There was little in the book shops that my mother thought was suitable, so I went from Enid Blyton straight to Steinbeck and Graham Greene. I do however have fond memories of going to the USSR cultural centre, which was close to our house, with our friend who was half Russian and half Ghanaian. There we watched communist propaganda films that we didn't understand. The cinema was air-conditioned, which was a wonderful respite from the heat and humidity, and the scenery in the films was sweepingly majestic and wonderful.
I have always rather liked the idea of being a writer and writing fiction mainly because I love to read. As a child, reading was my main entertainment. I set out to write a book when I was thirteen, but I abandoned it because I was really trying to write a grown up book. I started writing Cloth Girl tentatively in January 2002; by the end of the year I had only written about twenty pages, which was nevertheless enough to overcome my lack of confidence. In early 2003 I sat and wrote obsessively for about five months until I had the first draft.
I write most days. When I am in the middle of a story, I find it hard to stay away from my computer, and become quite preoccupied with it all, but I have to work around my children and their frequent school holidays.