Tell us your biography in three sentences or fewer.
I was born in Lancaster and studied at Manchester University and St Anne’s College, Oxford. For many years I worked as a teacher, including a spell as lecturer at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone. Since 1994 I have been a full-time writer, mostly of fantasy and science fiction, for both children and adults.
How and when did you begin writing, and what was your first published piece?
I began writing almost as soon as I knew how to write. My grandfather was a wonderful storyteller, so it seemed to me that making up stories was something that people did. The first story I wrote was about a little girl called Janet who lived in a lighthouse and had various pets including a Shetland pony. My first published piece was a short story called ‘Queen Elizabeth Slept Here’, which appeared in a small press magazine and was later read on BBC Radio as the Morning Story.
What’s so special about writing speculative fiction?
I’ve been told that I ought to be writing mainstream fiction about being a middle aged, middle class Surrey housewife. I can’t conceive of anything more boring. I want other worlds, in the past or the future or out on the edge of the galaxy, populated by people who are glamorous, intelligent, witty and above all different. I want villains who commit their evil deeds with style. I admire the great writers in the field – Ursula Le Guin in particular – and I want, just a tiny bit, to emulate that.
What life skills and experiences, other than writing, do you bring to your work?
Teaching, in terms of the contact with children, was definitely helpful when writing children’s books. My time in Sierra Leone, and travel generally, is something else than I feel contributed, though I tend not to set work directly in a foreign setting. I have written a novel and short stories set in Venice, which I have visited several times, but in all cases it was a different Venice, either an alternate history or with the addition of magic. And I’ve always been a voracious reader, which has taught me, by unconsciously soaking it up, how to tell a story.
Tell us about your most recent publication or current writing project.
My current writing project is a book in the Warriors series about feral cats, aimed at older children. This is where my obsession with cats comes into play. I’m part of a team, writing as Erin Hunter, and it’s been the most fun I’ve had as a writer for the last eighteen years.
A couple of years ago I self-published a couple of mystery novels: the real, classic Agatha Christie type whodunits. This hasn’t been so much a new departure as a return to a very old ambition. At the beginning of this year I acquired an agent, and he is currently hoping to sell the third in the series to a commercial publisher.
Cherith Baldry was born in Lancaster, UK, and studied at Manchester University and St Anne’s College, Oxford. For several years she worked as a teacher, including a spell as lecturer at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone.
She is now a full-time writer, mostly of fantasy and science fiction for both adults and children. Her short crime fiction has appeared in various anthologies, particularly those edited by Mike Ashley, and she is currently working on mystery novels for adults. She is also one of the Erin Hunter team writing the Warrior Cats series for older children.
Cherith now lives in Surrey. She is widowed with two grown up sons and a granddaughter, and is housekeeper for two cats. She is a member of the Association of Christian Writers, and is active in her local church. Her interests are travel, reading and music, especially early music.