Celia Rees’s biography
I was born and brought up in Solihull, in the West Midlands. My father was Headmaster of a Junior School, my mother stayed at home, looking after me and my older brother, Roy. We lived in an ordinary semi detached house, but it had a big garden and was near a park which led on to fields and woods. This was the landscape of my childhood. I spent most of my spare time playing there with my friends. It seldom occurred to me to write stories then, but there is much more to writing than putting words down on a page. Impressions, observations, enthusiasms feed into our thoughts and linger in the memory; they do not have to be written down straight away.
My friends and I acted out our stories in games, our imaginations fired by the books and comics, TV programmes and films. I have returned to my childhood for inspiration many times: directly in Truth or Dare and The Bailey Game, less obviously in other books, although my love of pirates would eventually surface again. and I have re-visited my teen interest in the gothic, ghosts and the supernatural in The Vanished, Soul Taker, Ghost Chamber, The Trap in Time Trilogy and an adolescent reading of Bram Stoker’s Dracula led to Blood Sinister.
After attending Tudor Grange Grammar School for Girls, I studied History and Politics at Warwick University, and was particularly interested in American History. I remember thinking in a seminar how strange and terrifying it must have been for the first settlers, not knowing that this thread of speculation would one day re-appear and become Witch Child and Sorceress.
I took a PGCE at Birmingham University and became a teacher. I taught for over ten years, teaching English in Coventry secondary schools, before I began to write. Teaching provided plenty of inspiration and reasons for writing, but all writers need encouragement, someone to say, ‘You can do this! That’s good!’ I was studying for a Master’s Degree at Birmingham University and one of the tutors asked us to write something, as we would ask students in school. He liked what I wrote and said so. I went back to school and began to write with my students. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do. I would write for teenagers, books that they would want to read, almost adult in style and content, but with people like them at the centre. At about this time, a friend and fellow teacher told me a true story about a group of her students who had got mixed up in a murder hunt. The subject was perfect and this became my first novel, Every Step You Take, published in 1993.
I have published many more books since then: at first I worked part-time in further education and as an Open Studies Lecturer at Warwick University, then I became a full time writer in 1997. I live in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire with my husband, Terence Rees. My daughter, Catrin, now lives and works as a lawyer in London.
I am a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation, am a member of the Society of Authors, and have been Chair of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group. I am a member of the Scattered Authors Society and a Fellow of the English Association.
The icons on this site are taken from a wire sculpture made by the artist Julia Griffiths-Jones. She calls the piece Stitch and Write and it is based on her reading of Witch Child, Sorceress and Pirates!. Julia and I have been friends for a long time and although we work in different media, we often draw inspiration from each other. You can see Stitch and Write on her web site at: www.juliagriffithsjones.co.uk.