I was born and bred in Derby, England, and my family still live there. After studying French and German at Salford University in the early 1980s, I then skittered off to live abroad. First off, I spent a year in Osnabrueck, Germany, which is twinned with Derby. As the so-called 'Derby Envoy' my job was to expand the twinning links between a myriad of organisations - schools, sports clubs, choirs, women's groups, all of which which was huge fun and a fabulous initiation to the world of work. Inspired, I then took myself off to Brussels, Belgium, where I worked as a political lobbyist before joining the European Commission in 1990. My youthful desire to change the world landed me a job on the regeneration of coal and steel communities throughout Europe, and then later onto my real passion for overseas aid. I was lucky enough to spend some years designing and managing aid programmes for the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, developing along the way a deep affection for Ukraine and also for Moldova. Homesick in my mid thirties, I then secured a secondment to the UK's Department for International Development and spend a few happy years working on similar programmes there. After a short stint in the Africa department, I then left to focus on the next stage of my life. When my daughter was born, I was able to snatch a few hours here and there to write my first novel. And so it continues.